Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to announce welfare measures for informal sector employees, especially construction workers. The letter addresses coronavirus outbreak's widespread economic impact on the sector.
Gandhi said that several countries like Canada had already announced wage subsidy measures as part of their COVID-19 Economic Response Plan."I request you to consider advising the State Building and Other Construction Worker's Welfare Boards to roll out emergency welfare measures," said Gandhi.
Lakhs of migrant workers in major cities across India have already left for their home towns and villages fearing a prolonged economic downturn, she wrote. She added over 44 million construction workers were facing an uncertain future as they have no work. As per Gandhi, many are stranded in cities and are not able to earn their livelihoods.
Gandhi wrote that The Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996 provides for welfare measures for workers. According to Gandhi, the Act provides for the constitution of welfare boards that will manage a welfare fund. "It is reported that the welfare boards collected Cess amounting to Rs 49,688,07 crore till March 31, 2019. However, only an amount of Rs 19,379.992 crores had been spent," she added.
Several states in the countries have been put under lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus. According to the orders, only essential services are being allowed to function resulting in construction workers being out of work.
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the country were 446 as of 9:00 am on March 24. Globally, the number has climbed to over 3,81,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including around 16,000 deaths.