STOCK MARKET BSE NSE

Coronavirus: Sonia Gandhi urges PM Modi, Congress CMs to take measures for wage support

She said that the country is in the midst of the worst global pandemic and this has necessitated stringent measures for containment and management of the COVID-19 transmission

Published: 24th March 2020 02:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 24th March 2020 02:51 PM   |  A+A-

Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi. (File photo| PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the plight of construction workers after the country-wide lockdown over coronavirus, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce emergency measures, including wage support to those in distress.

In a letter to the prime minister, Gandhi said that over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a "precarious" future as many of them are stranded in cities and are deprived of livelihood due to the lockdown.

In a separate letter to the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, the Congress chief urged them to ensure urgent wage support to construction workers who are now deprived of work due to the restrictions.

She said that the country is in the midst of the worst global pandemic and this has necessitated stringent measures for containment and management of the COVID-19 transmission. "These measures have led to widespread economic disruptions that had a debilitating impact on the informal sector," she said in her letter to Modi.

Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.

FOLLOW LIVE COVERAGE OF COVID-19

As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31, to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The Congress president said that over the last year, lakhs of migrant workers in major cities across India have left for their home towns and villages fearing a prolonged economic downturn. "As the second largest employer in India, over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a precarious future. Many are stranded in cities and are deprived of their livelihoods due to the stringent lock down measures," Gandhi told the PM.

The Congress chief said several countries around the world, most notably Canada, have announced wage subsidy measures as part of COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. "Considering the extraordinary circumstance, I request you to consider advising the State Building and other Construction Worker's Welfare Boards to roll out emergency measures, particularly wage support to the construction workers who are in distress," Gandhi urged the prime minister.

She said the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 provides for various welfare measures for workers.

The Act also provides for constitution of state welfare boards and the constitution of welfare fund, she said, noting that it is reported that the welfare boards collected cess amounting to Rs 49,688 crore till March 31, 2019. She said only an amount of Rs 19,379 crore had been spent.

In her letter to Congress chief ministers, she commended their tireless efforts towards responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This public health emergency has triggered a severe economic downturn that threatens the livelihoods of millions, she noted.

"The construction sector is still reeling under the twin blow of demonetisation and GST, and slowdown triggered by COVID-19 is likely to further deepen the crisis. While lakhs of migrant workers fled large cities over the last week due to panic and stoppage of work, many are left stranded due to stringent lockdown measures and closure of public transport. Given their dependence of daily wages, it is important to provide urgent wage support to construction workers who have been deprived of work," she wrote to the CMs.

"At this juncture, it is critical to ensure that workers are given the benefits they are entitled to under various statutory provisions," she said.

ALSO READ| Coronavirus: Sonia Gandhi urges people not to panic, pitches for relief package

State Welfare Boards set up under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 have a large pool of unutilised funds collected through the levy of Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess, she told the Congress chief ministers.

"Given that a significant amount of cess lies unutilised, the State Welfare Boards may consider providing wage support to their registered beneficiaries," Gandhi told the chief ministers.

She said that several countries around the world, most notably Canada has announced wage subsidy measures as part of its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. "In light of the extraordinary circumstance, I urge you to advise the State Welfare Boards to take necessary action at the earliest. Kindly keep me informed of progress in this matter," she told the CMs.

Gandhi wrote to Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy.



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp