THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Union Labour Ministry has sanctioned a Cine Workers Welfare Dispensary in the state capital to provide free medical assistance to the cine workers and their family members. The dispensary, at the same time, will also function as the Cine Workers Welfare Fund office and a referral unit for patients who require expert treatment in super specialty hospitals.
Cine Workers Welfare Fund, which was set up in 1981, failed to take roots in state due to tepid implementation. Though, the welfare fund had opened a few dispensaries in Kannur and Guruvayoor, it had seldom benefited the cine workers. Instead, the fund and facilities meant for the purpose were being utilised mainly by beedi workers of Kannur, says Gopan Chennithala, state convener of ‘Unarvu’, a cultural organisation working for the welfare of cine workers under the aegis of the BJP.
Gopan told ‘Express’ that the dispensary to be opened in the state capital was similar to the one in Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad.“The cine workers of Kerala would be able to reap the benefits of the fund for the first time. This facility has not been available even at major cinema hubs like Chennai and Bengaluru. It is in step with the initiatives by Unarvu that the Central Government decided to open a dispensary here” he said.
Gopan said that, at present, the cine workers had to go to Kannur or to seek assistance from the Welfare Fund Commissioner’s office. Since the constitution of the fund as per an Act passed by Parliament in 1981, lakhs of rupees had lapsed.
In the last 10 years, `1.31 cr was collected as cinema cess. But, only a sparse`30 lakh was utilised for the welfare of the cine workers. The Union Labour Ministry’s order came on a petition filed by Unarvu, moved through BJP state president V Muralidharan. Earlier, memorandums in this regard had been given to then Union Health Minister Dr Harshavardhan and Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
Gopan said the State Cine Workers Welfare Committee, constituted in 2011, has not been convened since its inception. A member from Kerala was there in the Central Cine Workers Welfare Board. But, apparently, he also had little interest in making the Welfare Fund Board to act.
■ The dispensary will also function as the Cine Workers Welfare Fund office and a referral unit for patients who require expert treatment in super specialty hospitals.
■ The Union Labour Ministry’s order came on a petition filed by Unarvu, moved through BJP state president V Muralidharan
■ Though, the welfare fund had opened a few dispensaries in Kannur and Guruvayoor, it had not benefited cine workers