Noting that it was committed to extending social security cover to all sections, the Government on Tuesday said it had decided to set up a National Social Security Fund for workers in the unorganised sector.

“The National Social Security Fund for workers in the unorganised sector would cover weavers, toddy tappers, rickshaw pullers and bidi workers with an initial allocation of Rs. 1000 crore,” the UPA government's Report to the People 2009-10 released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

It said several other important steps have been taken for the benefit of workers in the organised sector like carrying out amendment in the Workmen Compensation Act, 1923 to enhance benefits to the workers.

Besides, the Plantations Labour Act, 1951 had been amended for providing safety and occupational health care to plantation workers.

Further, Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 had also been amended to raise the limit of maximum gratuity payable from Rs. 3.5 lakh to Rs. 10 lakh. The benefit will not attract any interest rate.

The report card said comprehensive amendments had also been made in the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948 to improve the quality of delivery of health care and other benefits provided to the insured persons in the organised sector.

The amendment would also enable ESI infrastructure to be used to provide health care to workers in the unorganised sector.

As the industrial training institutes across the country were being upgraded to train more than five crore people within the next five years, the report card said 60 ITIs, located in minority concentration districts would be upgraded as part of the Prime Minister's New 15-point programme.

The exercise is being carried out keeping in mind the increased demand for skilled hands by the industry to drive the ever-expanding economy.

The 15-point programme for ensuring targeted development to minorities and the government's thrust on improving their education status find mention in the report card.

The report listed wakf reforms and special development plans for the 90 minority concentrated districts (MCDs) as major steps in this regard.

It also referred to opening of schools and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) in blocks and districts having a substantial minority population.

Dr. Singh said 17.29 lakh scholarships were given to children belonging to the minority communities for their pre-matriculation studies; 48 per cent of these are pre-matric scholarships on which an amount of Rs. 202.94 crore was spent.

Under the post-matric scholarship scheme, 3.88 lakh scholarships were awarded at a cost of Rs. 148.74 crore.

Minorities were provided over Rs. 96,000 crore of bank credit, while 502 public sector bank branches were opened in districts with a substantial minority population.

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