HC says dire need for mechanism to register migrant workers

NEW DELHI: There is a "dire need" for creating a mechanism to register migrant workers so that they are protected and benefits meant for them under various schemes are passed on to them, the Delhi High Court has said.

Justice Prathiba M Singh directed the Centre to file an affidavit giving details of the kind of portal it proposes to create for registration of migrant labourers across the country.

"Such a portal ought to have on board all the state governments so that the ingress and egress of migrant labour is duly recorded and reported.

"On the next date, respective officers from the Delhi government and the Union of India who are familiar with the above exercise shall join the hearing through video-conferencing," the court said after observing that "there is a dire need for creating a mechanism for registration of migrant workers".

The court said that while some progress appears to have been made under the Building and Construction Workers (BOCW) Act, registration/grant of licences under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act of 1979 was "almost negligible, if not nil".

"This position needs to be altered and solved in order to ensure that migrant labour is adequately protected in terms of the Acts and benefits meant for them are also passed on to them," the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on July 22.

The court's direction followed its perusing of the affidavits filed by the Centre and the Delhi government in response to a plea seeking implementation of the 1979 Act in the national capital which will include appointment of registering officers, licensing officers, appellate officer and inspectors as provided under the said statute.

The Delhi government said there are no registered contractors under the said 1979 Act.

However, on the registration of migrant workers under the BOCW Act of 1996, it said there are various schemes which are available for construction workers.

The registration of these workers takes place through the e-district portal, the Delhi government said, adding that during the COVID-19 lockdown period, 39,600 registered construction workers have been disbursed financial assistance.

The court was also informed that the Ministry of Labour and Employment held a video conference on June 16 on preparing a uniform registration format with software for portability across the country to enable the registration of migrant workers.

The Centre told the court that no contractor or employer working in Delhi has made any application for issue of registration or grant of a licence, under the 1979 Act.

However, the 'Shram Suvidha' portal of the ministry enables online issuance of licences and registrations under the 1979 Act, the ministry said.

The court on June 2 had said that the recent migrant labour crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic indicated an immediate need for availability of proper data relating to the workers to ensure steps can be taken in a timely manner for their welfare in such emergent situations.

The high court had said it was of the prima facie view that in order to have a proper, streamlined regulation of migrant workmen and their conditions of service, the first and the foremost significant measure would be the collection of the actual data and the integration of the same between the central government and the states.

The court had also said that collection of data has to be vertically integrated so that details related to migrant workmen can be collected from the Centre and states, cross-checked, maintained and readily available.

 

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PTI