THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Santhakumari, who ekes out a living by doing odd tailoring jobs, was relieved when she first heard about the assistance announced by the state government for workers like her to tide over the loss of income due to the Covid-19 lockdown. But even after a month and a half, it was announced by the Chief Minister, the 58-year-old widow is running from pillar to post to avail of the assistance.
Santhakumari is among the lakhs of workers, registered with various welfare fund boards, who were promised special financial assistance of Rs 1,000 in the wake of the lockdown but have not received a single penny. When contacted, K S Sindhu, Chief Executive Officer, Kerala Tailoring Workers Welfare Fund Board, said only those members who have their bank account and Aadhaar details updated could be provided with the assistance.
“Of the 5.3 lakh members who are eligible beneficiaries under the Tailoring Workers’ Welfare Fund Board, 2.26 lakh have been provided with the amount. Many bank accounts of members were found to be inoperative. We have now called for fresh online application through Akshaya centres,” she added.
The situation in other welfare fund boards is equally worse when it comes to disbursal of the assistance announced by the government. Of the 15.89 lakh eligible members of the Kerala Agricultural Workers’ Welfare Fund Board, only 73,867 have received the government’s assistance till now,” said a top official of the Labour Department.
Only 27,000 of the nearly 10 lakh registered members of the Kerala Motor Transport Workers Welfare Fund Board were able to receive the government assistance. Similarly, only around three lakh of the 19 lakh registered members of Kerala Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board got the amount transferred to their bank accounts, officials said.
‘Issue will be resolved’
T P Ramakrishnan, Labour Minister, told TNIE that the delay in disbursal of the special allowance was mainly due to the absence of staff in welfare fund board offices due to the lockdown. “The government has instructed the officials concerned that information regarding those beneficiaries, who could not avail of the assistance, should be collected at the earliest and the disbursal process should be completed within a week,” he said. Over 80 lakh workers in various organised sectors have been disbursed assistance to the tune of D1,000 crore. Besides, D1,000 will be provided to those workers in BPL category who do not come under any welfare fund boards, he said.