NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over hardships faced by construction workers, who play a vital role in nation-building, the Supreme Court on Monday issued a slew of directions to the Centre, to be implemented for the welfare of the workers.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said, “There is a total lack of concern and apathy on the part of the powers that be in doing anything substantial for the benefit of construction workers. This is indeed an extremely sorry state of affairs that puts a Shakespearean tragedy to shame.”
The court, while giving directives with regard to implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (the BOCW Act) and the Building and Other Construction Workers‘ Welfare Cess Act, 1996 (the Cess Act), said, “This is just imparting a symbolic justice to millions of construction workers in the country. No state government and no Union Territory Administration (UTA) seems willing to fully adhere to and abide by, or is perhaps even capable of fully adhering to and abiding by, two laws solemnly enacted by Parliament.”
The court slated the next hearing for May 1 to see whether or not the directives issued by it had been implemented.“We have been informed that under the Cess Act, more than Rs 37,400 crore has been collected for the benefit of construction workers, but only about Rs 9,500 crore has been utilised ostensibly for their benefit. What is being done with the remaining about Rs 28,000 crore? Why is it that construction workers across the country are being denied the benefit of this enormous amount? These are some questions that arise in this petition—are the answers blowing in the wind?”The bench also took note of the fact that not a single state advisory committee had held a single meeting during the previous 12 months.