Orissa HC asks govt to complete special audit of workers’ funds by Dec 18
The official report showed over Rs 579 crore remained unutilised and undisbursed by the end of December 2022, while 1.26 lakh construction workers were registered by then.
CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has set a fresh deadline of December 18 for the state government to complete special audit of utilisation of funds collected as registration fees from construction workers and cess from their employers.
The division bench of Acting Chief Justice BR Sarangi and Justice MS Raman allowed more time, while hearing a PIL seeking intervention on strict implementation of the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act 1996.
The Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act 1996 provides for levy and collection of cess on the cost of construction incurred by the employers with a view to augment the resources of the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Boards. The Construction Workers’ (Regulation and Condition of Services) Act, 1996 is intended to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health, and welfare measures and for other matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
The welfare measures prescribed under the Construction Workers’ (Regulation and Condition of Services) Act, 1996 include maternity allowance of Rs 50,000 per child (maximum two) to female beneficiaries, marriage assistance of Rs 50,000 for self or dependent girl child, funeral assistance of Rs 5,000, financial assistance for education of children and death benefits.
Advocate Mrinalini Padhi, representing OSLSA, had drawn attention of the court to the big gap between collection and expenditure towards the beneficiary construction workers that was evident from affidavit by the state government. The official report showed over Rs 579 crore remained unutilised and undisbursed by the end of December 2022, while 1.26 lakh construction workers were registered by then.
Taking note of it, the court had on January 19 directed the state government to conduct a special audit of the amount collected and disbursed and submit report by way of affidavit by July 31. But when the petition was taken up for hearing on November 17, the bench found that the state government had filed an application on July 31 seeking at least six months more to complete the special audit as per the January 19, 2023 order. Permitting it, the bench fixed December 18 as next for hearing on the matter and directed the state government to file by then the special audit report along with affidavit.