NEW DELHI: Construction workers and their families across the country will soon be entitled to social benefits such as life and disability insurance, health insurance, housing and pension.
These benefits form part of the model welfare scheme prepared by the Central government for construction workers and is loosely based on the draft domestic workers policy.
“We want to treat every section of workers equally. Once a building and construction worker (BOC) is registered with the board, he or she would be eligible to all the social benefits that the model welfare scheme provides,” a labour ministry official said.
The Supreme Court, in March this year, had directed the Centre to form a committee and layout policies of social welfare for BOC workers. It had also asked the Centre to use the cess in the welfare of the workers.
“We will use the cess collected to set up the welfare board. Our moves are totally in accordance with the Supreme Court directive,” the official added.
According to the International Labour Organization, India’s construction workers made up 14.4 per cent of the total employed population in 2000. The number has more than doubled to 30.1 per cent since then. Nirmana, an NGO working for the rights of the construction workers, estimates India’s construction workforce to be around 4.5 crore.
The model welfare scheme proposes that 50 per cent of the premium under the Prandhan Mantri Bima Yojana would be borne by the Central/State welfare board while the remaining would be borne by the Centre. “The scheme provides coverage of Rs 2 lakh in case of natural death and Rs 4 lakh in case of accidental death,” the draft states.
Nirmana estimates that around 1,000 workers die or are injured at construction sites annually. “Most accidents at sites are not fatal. The disability insurance will prove to be a life changer for the workers, if implemented,” Suman Gupta of Nirmana said.
The draft also proposes to provide medical expenses up to Rs 5 lakh, which would be borne by the state board. The amount could be availed directly from insurance companies or through the National Health Protection Scheme. “There will be reimbursement of expenses up to Rs 2 lakh for serious diseases like cancer,” the draft said. For female construction workers, the draft provides a 26 week maternity leave on minimum wages and medical expenses till a limit prescribed by the state welfare board.
The draft also proposes education scholarships for the BOC workers’ children. A pension of Rs 1,000 per month has been proposed for all construction workers who have attained the age of 60 years.
The draft will be sent to a committee formed by the Centre for suggestions from all stakeholders.