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20% of unorganised workers registered; Odisha, Bengal lead

With nearly a fifth of the targeted 38.37 crore unorganised workers now registered on the database, Odisha leads with an 87% coverage of its target, followed by West Bengal (65%), Chhattisgarh (33%), Jharkhand (31%) and Bihar (25%).

Written by Aanchal Magazine | New Delhi |
Updated: November 16, 2021 7:15:28 am
Odisha, West Bengal, Unorganised sector, Unorganised workers, e-Shram portal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand Bihar, Union Labour Ministry, EPFO, anganwadi workers, street vendors, domestic workersMigrants at a Mumbai railway station in May, during 2nd Covid wave. (File Photo)

OF THE OVER 7.7 crore registrations so far on the e-Shram portal — the country’s first centralised database of unorganised workers seeded with Aadhaar —Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar lead in terms of closing in on their respective targets for registration.

With nearly a fifth of the targeted 38.37 crore unorganised workers now registered on the database, Odisha leads with an 87 per cent coverage of its target, followed by West Bengal (65 per cent), Chhattisgarh (33 per cent), Jharkhand (31 per cent) and Bihar (25 per cent). This trend is being inferred as an indication of the distress seen among unorganised and migrant workers originating from these states in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown last year.

In absolute terms, states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh have a higher target for registrations than say Odisha, but the registrations in these states are still to pick up pace, with the target achievement rate in these states at 10 per cent or below, as per government data as of November 11 reviewed by The Indian Express.

The Union Labour Ministry is holding regular meetings with states for the updates for registrations, with the latest meeting having been held on November 12.

The e-Shram portal will provide insight for the first time into an Aadhaar-seeded database for unorganised sector workers including migrant workers, gig workers, agricultural workers, anganwadi workers, street vendors, domestic workers among others across the country. Till date, such a database is available mainly only for organised workers through the registered workers under the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation.

After registering on the e-Shram portal, the unorganised workers will have a Universal Account Number on the e-Shram card that will be valid across the country. This could be used to link with various social security schemes. For instance, the government has already announced linking accidental insurance with registration on the e-Shram portal. If a registered worker meets with an accident, he/she will be eligible for Rs 2 lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1 lakh on partial disability. The labour ministry is also undertaking work on linking this database with the Unnati portal, which is proposed to be a labour matching platform for workers to find employment.

“States are being asked to provide regular updates about the registrations. States such as Odisha and other eastern states are doing much better progress than even other bigger states. This in some way is indicative of how migrant and unorganised workers from these regions got affected during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the lockdown last year, and that’s why more response rate is being seen for registrations in these regions,” a senior labour ministry official told The Indian Express.

The government’s target of registrations for unorganised workers is based on the overall estimated size of 38.37 crore population of the informal sector workers, which it aims to complete fully by March-end next year. As of November 15, a total of 7.73 crore registrations have been completed on the portal, with the daily average of registrations around 12 lakhs over the last week.


The registrations on the e-Shram portal have come after a series of earlier attempts over the years to register or issue identification numbers for unorganised workers. A proposal to issue a Unorganized Workers’ Identification Number (UWIN) and allotment of an Aadhaar-seeded Identification number without issuing any smart card was approved by the Central government in 2017 with an estimated cost of Rs 402.7 crore for implementation during 2017-18 and 2018-19. In June 2018, the Ministry of Labour and Employment had issued tender inviting bids for creation of a ‘national platform of unorganized workers and allotment of an Aadhaar seeded identification number.

The Labour and Employment Ministry had in December last year sought help from other ministries to build a new database for migrant workers and others in the unorganised sector, which it had hoped to operationalise by June this year. It had then tasked the National Informatics Centre with the design and building of the portal.


On June 29, however, after the delay in completion of the portal, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre and said that “the apathy and lackadaisical attitude by the Ministry of Labour and Employment” was “unpardonable” and had set a July 31 deadline for the launch of a national portal for migrant/informal workers. The e-Shram portal was formally launched on August 26.

State-wise registrations (irrespective of the targets) show the highest number of registrations have taken place in West Bengal (1.88 crore), Uttar Pradesh (1.42 crore), Odisha (1.15 crore), Bihar (89.17 lakh) and Jharkhand (36.34 lakh). Occupation-wise, agriculture (53.8 per cent) and construction (12.2 per cent) sectors have shown the highest registrations, followed by domestic and household workers (8.7 per cent) and apparel workers (6.2 per cent).

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