Coronavirus update: Amid the measures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus in the country, the government has also announced financial aid to unorganised construction workers who are likely to be severely affected by the lockdown. The Ministry of Labour stated that it would utilise the cess fund of Rs 52,000 crore to provide relief to the construction workers through direct benefit transfer (DBT).
In a notification, the labour ministry said, "To support unorganised construction workers who sustain their livelihood on daily wages, an advisory has been issued today by Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Union Minister of State, I/C, Labour and Employment to all Chief Ministers/ LGs of all states/UTs. In the advisory, under Section 60 of the Building and Other Construction Workers Act, 1996, all state governments;UTs have been advised to transfer funds in the accounts of construction workers through DBT mode from the cess fund collected by the Labour Welfare Boards under the BOCW cess Act." The notification stated that Rs 52,000 crore is available in the cess fund and around 3.5 construction workers are registered with the construction welfare boards. However, the ministry is yet to clarify how much every construction worker will receive.
This notification comes after PM Modi announced a 21-day long lockdown in the country from March 25. Unorganised sector workers including construction workers would be severely impacted during this lockdown period.
Following PM's address to the nation, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that while the lockdown is necessary, PM Modi needs to answer who is going to provide money to the poor that they would need for the next 21 days. "I am certain the PM understands the urgency of announcing a financial package and putting cash in the pockets of the poor, daily workers, agricultural workers, self-employed etc," said Chidambaram.
The Prime Minister announced Rs 15,000 crore to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure in the country. In his address to the nation, PM Modi said that the fund will be used to develop health infrastructure, increase the number of beds, testing kits, and even training of professionals to combat the disease.