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Coronavirus: Sonia urges PM to take measures for wage support to construction workers

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Expressing concern over the plight of construction workers after the country-wide lockdown over coronavirus, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce emergency measures, including wage support to those in distress.

In a letter to the prime minister, Gandhi said over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a "precarious" future as many of them are stranded in cities and are deprived of livelihood due to the lockdown.

She said the country is in the midst of the worst global pandemic and this has necessitated stringent measures for containment and management of the COVID-19 transmission.

"These measures have led to widespread economic disruptions that had a debilitating impact on the informal sector," she noted.

Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.

As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31, to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The Congress president said that over the last year, lakhs of migrant workers in major cities across India have left for their home towns and villages fearing a prolonged economic downturn.

"As the second largest employer in India, over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a precarious future. Many are stranded in cities and are deprived of their livelihoods due to the stringent lock down measures," Gandhi said.

The Congress chief said several countries around the world, most notably Canada, have announced wage subsidy measures as part of COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

"Considering the extraordinary circumstance, I request you to consider advising the State Building and other Construction Worker's Welfare Boards to roll out emergency measures, particularly wage support to the construction workers who are in distress," Gandhi urged the prime minister.

She said the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 provides for various welfare measures for workers.

The Act also provides for constitution of state welfare boards and the constitution of welfare fund, she said, noting that it is reported that the welfare boards collected cess amounting to Rs 49,688.07 crores till March 31, 2019.

She said only an amount of Rs 19,379,922 crore had been spent.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, March 24 2020. 13:06 IST