Bageshree S.

The welfare board passed a resolution in this regard in July last

Of an estimated 15 lakh workers in Karnataka, only about 70,000 are registered with the board

Bangalore: After a year-long wait for a resolution to translate into a Government Order, construction workers of Karnataka are now set to get enhanced medical and educational benefits.

It was exactly a year ago, in July, 2008, that the Karnataka State Construction Workers Welfare Board passed a resolution to enhance the medical and educational benefits extended to workers registered with the board.

The Government Order giving effect to the resolution was passed a little over a year later, on July 16, 2009.

In the intervening period, despite enhancement, workers have been drawing financial benefits as per old rates.

In a meeting of the welfare board on July 5, 2008, chaired by Labour Minister B.N. Bachche Gowda, a resolution was passed to hike several benefits, in some cases proposing increase in benefits by several folds. The most important among them was the decision to enhance medical aid given for major ailments from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 50,000 and to extend medical benefits to workers who get admitted not only to government hospitals, but also any private hospital.

Money given to help construction workers whose children pass SSLC was enhanced from Rs. 750 to Rs. 3,000 and for those pursuing postgraduation or professional courses doubled from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000. Maternity aid was hiked from Rs. 4,000 to Rs. 6,000.

But all these enhancements had remained on paper for an entire year, as the file was stuck in the Law Department. The delay was particularly surprising because it has no financial implications for the Government, as the money for these benefits come from the one per cent building cess collected from all the construction companies which take up work worth more than Rs. 10 lakh.

Fund

This money is deposited in the workers welfare fund and financial benefits are extended to construction workers who are registered with the board from this fund. This corpus fund is expected to reach Rs. 200 crore by the end of this year

The welfare board has been operational in Karnataka since November 1, 2006. The 15-member board has representatives of employers, workers and government officials, with the Labour Minister being the chairman. But the enrolment of workers with the board has been pretty poor.

Of an estimated 15 lakh construction workers in Karnataka, about 70,000 are registered with the board.

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