NEW DELHI: Striking a compassionate note in favour of migrant workers, a government appointed panel has said states sitting on huge funds collected for welfare of construction labourers should utilise them for meeting housing needs of this workforce.
It has also advocated both state and local governments provide basic services such as water and electricity supply, sewage and road network in informal settlements, which accommodate a majority of migrants in urban areas. The working group of experts on migration set up by the housing and poverty alleviation ministry has pointed out how nearly Rs 25,500 crore were collected in 2015 as construction cess for welfare of the construction labourers and those working in kilns. Barely Rs 5,367 crore was spent from this kitty. Even the Supreme Court had blasted both Centre and state governments for sitting on this fund. “W e should not take this for granted. It is important to confront discrimination whenever it appears and reinforce the contributions that migrants make to their places of residence and reaffirm the rights of Indians to settle and work anywhere in India.” Suggesting how the fund can be utilised, the panel has said, “This should also account for provision of rental accommodation for such workers. This would address the needs of the significant share of migrants who work in these industries.”
I t has also recommended that the extension of basic services to all settlements will be of immense help to migrant labourers, who often lead miserable lives. “If necessary, a scheme could be evolved for this purpose or the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana could be extended to cover the upgradation of infrastructure in all types settlements that local and state governments would like to serve,” the committee has said.