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Govt directs states, UTs to transfer funds to labourers day after Sonia writes to PM

In a letter to PM Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi called for emergency welfare measures for labourers, including a wage subsidy.

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New Delhi: The central labour ministry Tuesday issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories to transfer money to the accounts of construction workers in light of the shut down due to coronavirus.

Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State, labour and employment (independent charge), issued the advisory to all chief ministers and lieutenant governors to transfer the funds through direct benefit transfer.

The funds will be distributed from the cess fund collected by the Labour Welfare Boards under the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, 1996.

A day earlier, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi had called for emergency welfare measures for labourers, including a wage subsidy, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

About Rs 52,000 crore is available as cess fund and about 3.5 crore construction workers are registered with various construction welfare boards.

Most parts of India are under lockdown till 31 March, with states like Punjab and Delhi declaring a curfew to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

Also read: PM Modi’s ‘Janata Curfew’ finds echo in a 1973 Gujarat movement he took part in

Sonia Gandhi’s letter

In the letter dated 23 March, Gandhi spoke about the debilitating impact the lockdown is having on the informal sector due to widespread economic disruptions.

“… lakhs of migrant workers in major cities across India have left for their hometown and villages fearing a prolonged economic downturn”, she wrote, and added how those who couldn’t return are “stranded in cities” and “deprived of their livelihoods”.

In her appeal, she cited the BOCW (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Services) Act, that provides various welfare measures for workers, including the constitution of state welfare boards and welfare funds.

The Congress leader raised concerns about how only a fraction of the amount collected — Rs 19,379.922 crore out of Rs 49,688.07 crore —  via the Act has been spent.

She further cited Canada’s measures — of announcing “wage subsidy measures as part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan” — and urged PM Modi for a similar action in India.

Homebound, without employment 

Despite the government closing off most means of travel to break the chain of the virus’ transmission, migrant labourers, especially those in Maharashtra, returned to their home in hoards, overcrowding railways stations at Mumbai and Pune. Train services bound for Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states, to which many labourers belong, have been in high demand.

The railway ministry Sunday suspended all passenger trains till the end of the month.

In the national capital, section 144 under the Code of Criminal Procedure has been imposed, effecting a curfew that prevents citizens from stepping out of their home, except for personnel working with essential services. Public transport has also been restricted to the bare minimum.

As the number of active cases crossed 440, PM Modi announced he will address the nation at 8 pm Tuesday “on vital aspects relating to the menace of COVID-19”.

Also read: Social distancing is a luxury Indians earning just Rs 150 a day cannot afford


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  1. Chamchagiri ki bhi koi seema nhi hoti. Sare kaam Sonia ke kehne se hi ho rhe hain chamcho.
    Sabzi bn rhi hoti hai or Sonia ke chamche usko khbr kr dete hain tb sonia chitti likh ke gu*taji ko copy bhej deti hain credit lene ke liye. Chidu ko bhi Sonia ne ander karvayea tha kya.

  2. Instead of writing letter to PM, Sonia Gandhi should be donating the illegally amassed Gandhi family wealth parked outside India to government to labourers and daily wage earners. What RaGa is doing? He should be in Italy helping the church there to bury the Corona victims.

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