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Karnataka Govt Says no Data on Informal Workers, so Cash Transfer not Possible

As workers run out of cash during lockdown, the state labour minister says the government has no data of unorganised sector workers, such as drivers, farmers, domestic help and others.

Bengaluru: Amid fears that people from the unorganised sector are running out of cash to meet their daily expenses, the Karnataka government said there was no data available for such labourers, who can be provided financial assistance under the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme.

"The government does not have data of people in the unorganised sector such as drivers, farmers, domestic help and others. If we have to deposit directly into their account, we need data..," State Labour Minister A Shivaram Hebbar told PTI.

The minister said a situation borne out of the COVID-19, where the entire nation has been lockdown was never anticipated.

To him, the pandemic has given an opportunity to gather information about the unorganised sector.

"This COVID-19 has taught the department and the workers a lesson that we should be prepared for a situation like this. We have learnt that all the information about labourers should be available with the labour department," Hebbar conceded.

The minister opined that the department should have had the list during the good times but nobody bothered to have it.

"During the good times nobody bothered about it -- neither they (beneficiaries) asked for it, nor we thought of it.," Hebbar said.

Now that the pandemic has struck, the government is focusing only on not letting anyone starve to death.

A three-level preparation has been made -- at the village level, Taluk level and the city level, the minister said.

Village anganwadis have been stuffed with food items to be cooked for the needy, whereas in Taluk level, government hostels have been turned into shelters for the labourers, hesaid noting that lakhs of philanthropists in cities have come forward to feed the people from unorganised sector.

"The basic objective of our government is no one should starve to death.  The issue of organised or unorganised sector comes next," he explained.

On the fear of large-scale retrenchment, the minister said notices have been served on all the industries that no one should be expelled from the job.

However, Hebbar underlined that the industrialists today are as much in distress as the workers and his department was taking into account everyone's concern.

A decision will be taken in this connection by the government in the next two days, to provide assistance to small enterprises to keep them afloat. 

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