maharashtra update | COVID-19 Impact: Maharashtra govt plans to grant funds for labourers

MUMBAI: Maharashtra is planning to grant funds from the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare (BOCW) Cess Fund to help developers tide over immediate needs of over 2 lakh registered labourers in the state to soften the blow of the Covid-19 lockdown on one of the most vulnerable segments of society, said two persons with direct knowledge of the development.

Maharashtra’s Labour Minister Dilip Walse-Patil told ET “We are reviewing the matter. However, we have not taken a final decision on this as yet.”

This will be the first instance of government relief to labourers.

In their suggestions to the government, developers mentioned release of part of Rs 1 lakh crore reserves lying in the BOCW Cess Fund collected from developers to provide for loss of wages to construction workers.

Builders in Maharashtra have already stopped construction work since Sunday in the backdrop of a state wide lockdown directive by the government.

“The government is likely to extend Rs 1,000 per registered labourer from this fund for now, and will continue to assess the situation to extend the aid further,” said one of the persons mentioned above.

An initial tranche of Rs 20 crore will be released for grocery and daily maintenance allowance of these workers.

Besides being the first such move by any state government, the move may prompt other state authorities to offer such relief. Across India, there are around 18,000 projects under construction engaging over 85 lakh construction workers.

Currently, there are 1 million homes being constructed across Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) worth Rs 5 lakh crore in inventory, said industry officials.

Construction work on all the sites has almost stopped as of now.

Based on current assessment, realty developers believe that it will take at least one month before normal construction work can resume and work will start only after the situation stabilises.

However, builders associations have taken a decision to continue paying workers during this period even if they miss work due to illness or stoppage of work.

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