A plea has been moved in the Delhi High Court claiming that the rights of the construction workers are getting violated due to their non-registration and lack of access to social welfare schemes.
Filed by social activist Sunil through Advocate Shiven Varma, the petition highlights that the construction workers are denied their right to social welfare schemes due to non-implementation of the provisions of the Building and Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, and the Building and Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act.
It is submitted by the Petitioner that most of the construction workers in Delhi are not registered as construction workers, thus they are deprived of not only monitoring of whether wages are being paid to them as per the guidelines under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, by their principal employers, but also all benefits of the welfare schemes under the BOCW Act including the direct bank transfer relief provided by the government for construction workers.
This issue, as per the Petitioner, has become even more aggravated and urgent due to the joblessness caused by the nationwide lockdown imposed as a precautionary measure against COVID19.
The gross under registration of construction workers is highlighted by the figures stated in the petition - out of 10 lakh construction workers, only 37,127 are registered as beneficiaries of the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.
'The gross under registration of construction workers is evident from the fact that between 2015 – 2020, the number of registered construction workers in Delhi fell from 300,000 (Three lakh) to under 40,000 (forty thousand). It is pertinent that the BOCW Welfare Cess Act, 1996, collects a cess from construction activities specifically for the benefit of all construction workers', the petition states.
The Petitioner has also pointed out that the Supreme Court had directed the State Governments to immediately register the construction workers in the judgment of National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour (NCC-CL) v. Union of India
In that judgment, the apex court had made the Member-Secretary of the Welfare Boards and the Labour Secretary responsible for the proper implementation of the Act and the registration of workers. Moreover, the court had ordered that all construction workers should be given identity cards and should be registered in terms of Section 12 of the BOCW Act.
The Petitioner also argues that due to non registration of workers by the Welfare Boards, many construction workers are currently residing in various labour camps, construction sites, homeless shelter homes, emergency shelter homes and on streets across Delhi.
To address these challenges, the Petitioner has also suggested the following recommendations:
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