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Cabinet okays changes

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) The union cabinet Thursday cleared amendments to the laws relating to construction workers’ registration and welfare and lined up the changes for parliament’s approval during the winter session, an official said.

The approved amendments will be effected in the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, and the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996.

"These amendments will streamline the process of the registration of the construction workers. The state welfare boards will be able to consolidate their finances and incur expenditure on administrative and other purpose for their smooth functioning. The amendments will facilitate speedy implementation of these acts by the central and the state governments," an official statement said.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave the nod to the amendments and decided to place them up before parliament for approval during the coming winter session, it said.

The amended provisions include empowering the central government to specify the maximum cost of construction by notification, in place of the present limit of Rs.10 lakh, which shall fall within the definition of establishment under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act.

The prerequisite condition of engagement of 90 days for registration of workers under the Act is proposed to be done away with.

Moreover, in order to extend benefits to the workers, who are engaged in building and construction work after attaining the age of 60 years, the criteria of upper age limit of 60 years is proposed to be done away with.

The amendment will also empower the central government to notify such percentage of total expenditure, in place of existing five percent during the financial year for meeting administrative expenses by the state building and other construction workers welfare board.

It also empowers the central government to appoint such number of directors general, not exceeding 10, to coordinate with the central government in carrying out its responsibility of laying down the standard of inspection and to exercise the power of an inspector.

The tweaked law would also empower the state governments to file complaints for contravention of provisions of the Act.

Once approved by parliament, the law will prescribe a time limit of 30 days for cess collecting authorities to deposit cess to the state building and other construction workers welfare board.

The two 1996 laws were enacted with a view to regularise the wages, working conditions, safety and for the health, and welfare measures of construction workers. The Acts apply to every establishment which employs 10 or more workers.

The slow progress of implementation of these Acts had been raised and the tripartite central advisory committee, constituted under the law, set up a task force to examine various provisions of the Acts.

The recommendations of the task force were considered by the central advisory committee and recommended that certain provisions of these Acts required amendments.

Accordingly, the central government decided to carry out amendments in these two laws.


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