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CAG Flags Distortion in Death Compensation for Delhi Construction Workers

The date of application for registration was after the date of death of the construction worker.
Construction workers Delhi.

One of the four Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports tabled by Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia during the Monsoon Session in the Assembly on Tuesday flagged irregularities in the way compensation was granted to construction workers in the event of death.

The report also revealed that more than 94% of the cess collected by the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board for providing social security, healthcare, etc. was poorly utilised.

Mentioning 54 cases where death benefits amounting to Rs 1 lakh-Rs 2 lakh were disbursed, the report stated that the workers were “issued identity cards even before they had applied for registration”, The Indian Express reported.

“Out of these [54], in seven cases in which payment of Rs 6.60 lakh was made, the date of application for registration was after the date of death of the construction worker although the application bore the signature of the deceased worker,” the report added. The applications also “contained the certificate of employment issued by the construction workers union”.

These issues indicated the “possibility of ineligible claimants availing benefits under the scheme”, the CAG stated.

Highlighting the poor utilisation of funds meant for labour welfare, the report stated: “During the years 2002-19, the Board received Rs 3,273.64 crore as cess, interest on cess collected and registration fees out of which it spent only Rs 182.88 crore (5.59%) on the welfare of construction workers and the cess and fees collected along with interest had accumulated to Rs 2,709.46 crore as of March 2019.”

The CAG report for the year ending March 31, 2018, stated the payment of Rs 97.64 crore as income tax and interest “deprived” the building and other construction workers of the much-needed social security and other welfare measures, the PTI reported.

Another audit report for the year ending March 2019 highlighted that the Board—constituted in September 2002 to collect cess and utilise the same for providing social security, healthcare, etc. to construction workers in Delhi—did not prepare any long-term plan to fulfil its mandated objectives.

As per rules, construction workers must be registered with the Board for availing benefits of the welfare schemes. However, the Board did not conduct a survey to identify construction workers in Delhi, the report stated.

“As of March 2019, only 17,339 (1.7%) out of an estimated 10 lakh construction workers were registered with the Board thereby depriving 98% of the workers of the benefits of welfare schemes of the Board.” Even in the case of registered workers, the benefits provided were limited as there was no outgo on 6 out of the 15 welfare schemes implemented by the Board, the report pointed out.

Besides, the administrative expenses of the Board shot up beyond the prescribed limit of 5% of total expenditure to 14.42% in 2016-17 and 12.20% in 2018-19, the report further stated.

The report also flagged the “undue financial benefit” given to the two private concessionaires appointed to operate and maintain the Bawana and Narela industrial areas. “The concessionaires were given undue financial benefit by allowing escalation of monthly maintenance charges without obtaining the details of expenditure incurred by them on operation and maintenance activities.”

The report on social, general and economic sectors for the year ending March 2018 also pulled up the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government for lacking a “strategic plan” to provide water and sewer facilities to unauthorised colonies. Only 353 and 126 unauthorised colonies were provided piped water and sewer facilities, respectively, during this period, according to the report.

“Thus, as of March 2018, out of a total 1,797 unauthorised colonies, piped water supply and sewerage facilities were available in 1,230 (68.4%) and 224 unauthorised colonies (12.5%), respectively.”

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