BHUBANESWAR: The State Government is working on a proposal which seeks collection of 1 per cent cess on construction cost by the building development authorities so that the welfare fund for construction workers be broadened.
At present, the Government has been able to mobilise Rs 802 crore for the fund of Odisha Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (OBOCWWB) by way of cess. However, since a large number of private establishments evades the cess net, the Labour and Employees State Insurance Department has submitted the proposal to widen its base.
The proposal marks a change in cess collection mode by bringing the urban local bodies into picture. It says private establishments must submit the construction cost while seeking building plan approval from the development bodies. The cess should be remitted to the Board.
Chairman of the Board Subash Singh on Wednesday said the proposal aims at widening the collection base since the number of construction workers in the State now stands at 30 lakh against which just 10 lakh have been registered with OBOCWWB for benefits under welfare schemes.
“The present enforcement system is not equipped to go after establishments which evade the cess payment. If the proposal gets ratified, the mechanism will ensure that the establishments pay the cess before getting provisional permission for construction,” Singh said. Additionally, this would not necessitate enforcement.
Addressing mediapersons, he said the Board will soon issue smart cards to 10 lakh registered construction workers so that renewal as well as assistance provided to them can be updated swiftly. Each registered worker will have to pay Rs 50 towards the card’s cost.
Apart from covering construction workers from the organised sector, the State Government is also taking steps to bring under the welfare ambit those in unorganised sector and working outside Odisha. Family members of workers will receive Rs 1 lakh as ex gratia for accidental death and Rs 50,000 towards treatment cost. To facilitate this process, camps will be organised in other States to enrol the workers, Singh said.
So far, the Board has provided assistance to the tune of Rs 53.40 crore to 1.48 lakh beneficiaries.