JAGATSINGHPUR: Irked over the State Government’s apathy towards their plight, the construction workers of Jagatsinghpur district have decided to teach the BJD a lesson in the polls.There are around 20-25 workers in every village of the district and they make up for a sizeable vote bank. Thousands of construction workers have registered themselves under Building and Other Construction Workers (RE & CS) Act, 1996. However, the majority of the workers are yet to avail benefits earmarked for them like bicycles, construction tools and safety equipment since 2015.
As per estimates, around 40,000 construction workers are registered under RE & CS Act, 1996 while another 10,000 to 20,000 have applied for registration. Each construction worker has an assured two-three votes including that of his family members and as per simple calculation, it comes to around 1 lakh votes in the district.
A head mason Manoj Mohanty of Panchupalli village under Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituency said he and the 20 workers under him had applied for construction tools and safety equipment in 2015. However, they are yet to receive the benefits owing to the negligence of elected representatives and officials concerned. He said around 90 percent of the construction workers in his village have decided to vote against the BJD to teach the party a lesson.
Workers’ union leader Bishnu Charan Barik said every construction worker who is registered under RE & CS Act, 1996 is entitled to benefits worth `9,000. He said while some workers have received bi-cycles worth `4,000, a few are yet to receive construction tools and safety equipment worth `5,000. Barik said construction workers are often harassed by block officials while issuing marriage or death certificates.
A senior official of the Labour department said of the 39,465 registered construction workers in the district, the majority have not yet received their benefits due to shortage of staff and imposition of the Model Code of Conduct.
District president of Jagatsinghpur Nirman Sharmik Sangh Pradipta Ram said around 10,000 workers in the district have not yet been registered. He said around 15,000 registered workers have not received their bicycles and 20,000 are yet to receive safety tools.