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Centre moves to offer free insurance, pension for construction workers
The Hindu Business Line  |  May 17, 2018

Shishir Sinha New Delhi

The Centre has proposed free insurance cover for building and construction workers. A draft Model Welfare Scheme, prepared by the Labour Ministry, also plans to offer a scholarship for the children of the workers.

 

According to the National Sample Survey (2011-12), there are about 5.02 crore construction workers in the country. As of December 31, 2017, over 2.86 crore workers are registered with States and Union Territories through their State Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Boards.

 

The welfare scheme also has provisions for health and maternity cover, housing and skill development.

 

The draft has been prepared following a Supreme Court directive earlier this month. The Ministry has sought suggestions/comments on the draft before May 21. Based on the suggestions, a government-appointed committee will give final shape to the scheme.

 

Insurance cover

 

The government currently has two major insurance schemes: The Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY) for life cover, and the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY) for accident cover. Under the PMJJBY, one can get life insurance cover worth Rs. 2 lakh at Rs. 330 a year, while the PMSBY provides accident cover worth Rs. 2 lakh at Rs. 12 a year.

 

It means one has to pay Rs. 342 a year to have both the covers. Now, it is proposed that 50 per cent of the total contribution, that is, Rs. 171 a year, will be paid by the State Welfare Boards and the remaining by the Centre. Health and maternity scheme proposes hospital expenses up to Rs. 5 lakh to be borne by the Welfare Boards. This can be done directly or through insurance companies, as determined by the National Health Protection Scheme. There will be a reimbursement of expenses to up to Rs. 2 lakh for serious diseases such as cancer and renal failure. For women construction, minimum wages for 26 weeks will be provided for up to two pregnancies and for wives of construction workers, medical expenses up to a certain limit may be provided by the State Welfare Boards. A scholarship of Rs. 3,000 per year will be provided for two children of in classes IX to XII, and up to Rs. 12,000 per year for those doing graduation, a course in an IIT, and pursuing vocational or professional courses.

 

Pension and other benefits

 

The scheme proposes Rs. 1,000 a month pension to workers reaching 60. Workers registered with the State Welfare Boards for at least five years will be eligible for this.

 

States and Union Territories collect a cess of one per cent of the cost of construction under the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996. The mop-up till December 31, 2017 was Rs. 39,152.327 crore. Of that, only Rs. 10,123 crore has been spent. It means States and Union Territories can meet various obligations of the proposed scheme through the cess while the Centre can enhance the budget allocation.