Guwahati, September 2: Opposition parties in Assam on Wednesday lashed out at the state government for allegedly not taking “concrete steps” to address the coronavirus-induced problems being faced by workers engaged in the unorganised sector.
They slammed the Labour Department for failing to yet compile a database of the unorganised sector workers.
During the Question Hour of the Assembly, the Congress and the AIUDF sought to know the measures taken by the administration for the welfare of the migrant workers who returned to the state due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
When Congress MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha asked for the details of the measures, Minister of State for Labour Welfare, Sanjoy Kishan, said that the construction workers are being engaged in different state government schemes.
“A database is being prepared for the unorganised workers. Very soon, they will also be included under various schemes,” Kishan said.
On this, AIUDF MLA Mamun Imdadul Haque Chawdhury alleged that the Labour Department has failed to do “anything concrete” for the welfare of the workers.
“You don’t even have proper data. Please study and then reply. What definite policies are you taking for the organised and unorganised sectors? Reports say that 56 lakh people will become poorer in our state. If that happens, it will be devastating for Assam,” he said.
The minister responded saying that the entire situation is new even for the department and the government is now preparing policies for the affected people.
“Besides, people like barbers, auto-rickshaw drivers and rickshaw-pullers never came to us before. They were self- sustaining. So, we did not have any data. Now, the situation has arisen when they need help and we are doing our best,” he said.
Kishan said the government had tried to distribute around Rs 1,000 crore among the workers engaged in the unorganised sector but they provided “wrong” account details.
“We have given one-time assistance of Rs 2,000 to 2,21,374 registered construction workers,” he said.
In a separate reply to Congress MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar, Kishan said the state has a total of 9,83,763 registered workers, who are from the tea gardens, and construction and other sectors.
A noisy scene was created when the Congress members criticised the government’s “lack of proactive steps”, which was countered by shouting BJP legislators.
“Nobody can win by shouting here. People are watching us… It is an important issue and a message should go from the Assembly. It is a problem of the entire state. We should all work unitedly,” Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami said.
Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the government is equally concerned for the unorganised sector and is working to uplift the condition of the workers.
“We have developed a portal and asked the workers to register themselves. We have linked it with the industry and rural health mission. Besides, two lakh people will be trained under the skill development programme. We hope all the people will be absorbed if these are implemented,” he said.
In a written reply to a query by Congress member Sherman Ali Ahmed, Kishan said Rs 1,011.17 crore labour cess have accumulated in the last 10 years, of which only Rs 99.91 crore have been spent for different benefits.
On increasing the number of registrations, the minister said all registering officers have been given targets to bring more workers into the fold. (PTI)