A month after the state government announced its first financial assistance of Rs 2,000 for more than 12 lakh construction workers, nearly 4.51 lakh are yet to get any amount.
On Thursday, state Labour Minister Dilip Walse-Patil said Rs 153.40 crore as financial assistance has been deposited in the bank accounts of 7.67 lakh construction workers in the wake of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, while the department has asked the district officials to identify and send a list of remaining construction workers across the state.
Maharashtra has 22.72 lakh registered workers. However, an estimated 12.18 lakh workers were active before the lockdown period, the labour department said.
On April 18, the state government had announced an economic sop for the registered and active construction workers in the state.
The amount is being provided through the Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (MSBCWB) that has a pool of construction cess — Rs 8,500 crore — collected from developers for every real estate project.
The corpus is almost four times more than the estimated Rs 240 crore required to pay 12.18 lakh workers, officials said.
Calling it the first financial sop, Walse-Patil said the government will review the overall situation after the May 31 lockdown and “whatever intervention is necessary from the state government to safeguard the wellbeing of the workers will be initiated”.
The economic sop for workers was necessitated as the lockdown had brought the real estate industry in the state to a grinding halt across. Construction workers, who mostly earn daily wages, were left stranded without any source of earning.
“The government is not going to leave out any eligible worker. They will get the financial help,” Walse Patil said.
However, opposition parties and workers’ unions had expressed reservations arguing the government should have paid at least three installments of Rs 2,000 each to individual workers. It would have cost only Rs 6,000 per worker and helped them to sustain from March to May.
A senior officer in the labour department said, “The original plan was to provide at least two installments of Rs 2,000 each to each worker. But a section within the government argued it cannot make exceptions for only construction workers. Secondly, the government believed construction projects were given an early nod to resume business despite lockdown. Thus, ensuring workers’ livelihood, provided contractors can make arrangements for logistics and ensure adherence to coronavirus safety guidelines.”