The Delhi High Court on Wednesday directed the State government to renew the registrations of around five lakh labourers, who falls under the eligible category as they can get relief during the COVID-19 lockdown. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar asked the Delhi government to renew the registrations of the construction workers who fall under the eligibility criteria under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Act.
The bench has asked the Delhi government to send SMS to the over five lakh workers reminding them for registration. However, the detailed order will be made available later. The court was hearing a petition filed by activist Sunil Kumar Aledia seeking to provide relief and all mandated benefits to workers and migrant labourers.
Appearing for social worker Aledia, lawyer Shiven Varma has sought a direction to concerned authorities to provide relief to workers and labourers and all mandated benefits be provided to them including those who were previously registered in the last two years but have not renewed their membership under the BOCW act.
The plea has sought a direction to concerned authorities to ensure that all workers falling under the scope of the Act who is currently hosted at DUSIB shelter homes and emergency Shelter homes, Labour camps and construction sites are promptly registered under the BOCW Act. The plea has sought an order directing the respondents and concerned authorities to ensure that all the construction workers whose names have been filed by construction companies and employers with the Labour Department are promptly registered as beneficiaries under the BOCW Act.
The plea has also sought a direction to the DSLSA to set up programs and camps to ensure that all eligible construction workers employed in the state of Delhi are registered as beneficiaries under the building act.
Highlighting that due to the lack of responsibility taken by employers, governments and concerned departments alike, these workers are not just left to fend for themselves but are also deprived of the mandated benefits of crores of funds collected in their name, the petitioner said that “the fate of non-registration for welfare schemes has been faced by labourers and workers for far too long, and is particularly inflated by the Covid-19 lockdown.”
“It is a stark reality of Delhi that despite infrastructure projects being taken up by huge companies (including those arising out of lucrative government contracts for government buildings), these poor, uneducated and unaware workers have been left to fend for themselves. Neither the Delhi Government nor the companies/contractors have come forward to facilitate and/or ensure their registration as beneficiaries under said welfare and beneficial Act,” the petition stated.
Aledia, in his petition, has expressed concern with the violation of the right to equality and work, of the workers, whose right to the social welfare schemes and benefits mandated by the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act (BOCW Act) and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act is being violated due to the violation of the provisions of the Act, as well as non-implementation of its provisions. “Most construction workers of Delhi are not registered as construction workers, thus depriving them not only of monitoring on 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,” the petition said.
The lack of implementation of these acts is particularly and greatly highlighted in the city of Delhi by the extraordinary emergent situation created by the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s undeniably appalling attendant and consequent effects. There are an estimated more than 10 lakh construction workers who work in Delhi, the petition said.