Union Minister for Labour and Employment M. Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said his ministry was formulating a programme to impart skill training to over 6.5 lakh people working under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), which would enable them to work abroad also.
Speaking to presspersons, Mr. Kharge, accompanied by Union Minister of State for Mines (independent charge) Dinsha J. Patel, said the beneficiaries include street vendors and brick and construction workers. These families are under a national health insurance scheme wherein all family members get free treatment up to Rs. 30,000 if the head of the family procures a card. Sub-regional offices would be opened for insured persons, wherever necessary.
When asked whether the pension for certain types of labour would be enhanced, Mr. Kharge said the Centre was working out a new pension scheme for those getting a paltry sum. A committee, under the additional secretary in his ministry, was studying the issue. Earlier, Mr. Kharge inaugurated the Southern Zonal Office of the Directorate-General of Mines Safety. Earlier, safety and welfare of workers in the southern region were handled at Hyderabad. From now on such issues would be allocated to the Bangalore office for Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry regions. All the mines in Bellary, Raichur, Kolar, Koppal, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Bijapur and other areas would come under its jurisdiction.
He said a thorough change was being made in the Acts and Rules for providing more safety to workers in mines. Thirty-two amendments were being made to the Indian Mines Act in the event of disasters. Penalty and jail term for managers and agents of mines would be raised.
Mr. Kharge requested the Bangalore Development Authority and the Karnataka Housing Board to allot sites for constructing his department's office buildings, as most of his offices were functioning on rented premises.
Mr. Patel said that his ministry comes into the picture only at the final stage of giving the lease and it is the State Government which has total control over all mining activities in their jurisdiction.