Information received under RTI exposes blatant violation

Information procured under Right to Information (RTI) Act from the office of the state labour commissioner BD Sanap reveals that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) are violating provisions made for the safety and welfare of contract labourers.
Replying to a query filed by NGOs Shramik Janta Sangh and Medha Patkar-led National Alliance for People’s Movement (NAPM), the labour commissioner’s office replied on September 18 that the two offices have not filed mandatory returns displaying the compliance of contract agencies with labour welfare legislations for last five years.
NAPM activist Simpreet Singh said, “This is a clear cut violation of the section 63 (2) of the Contract Labour Act that requires the principal employers to file returns with the labour commissioner.” The state employs more than 1.6 crore people from the unorganised sector, highest for any state.

Though the state government has enacted several Acts to protect the interests of unorganised workers, the RTI application exposes the lack of will and desire to implement them.
Despite large-scale works undertaken by the government agencies on contract basis, only 13 contractors are registered with Sanap’s office. Section 21 of the Contract Labour Act requires all contractors employing labourers on contract to register themselves with the licencing officers affiliated with the commissioner’s office.
There are 48 licensing officers in the state. Interestingly, all the 13 contractors work in Mumbai, no contractor has been registered in other cities like Pune, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad.

Provisions require the labour commissioner’s office to maintain a record of all inter-state migrant workers, contract labours and list of contractors employing them.

Sanap’s office has conceded that the no such lists have been compiled, meaning the office does not have a record of the number of contractors working in the state nor does it have data on the number of labourers.

Singh said, “The Act requires maintenance of records related to the payment of wages to workers, muster-rolls, over-time registers and issue of identity cards. It also fixes the responsibility on principal employers to provide basic, first-aid facilities and oversee payments for the unorganised sector if the contractor fails to do so.”

However, he added, “All these are blatantly violated. If the state authorities do not comply with the provisions, how can you expect the private contractors to abide
by them?”

It must be noted that that the contravention of the provisions is punishable with imprisonment up to one year or a fine of Rs1,000.

Sandeep Ashar & Chittaranjan Tembhekar
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 03:00 IST
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