“Funds are beneficial only when they are realistic,” said Union Minister of Labour & Employment, Steel and Mines, Shri Narendra Singh Tomar at the 21st Central Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting of the Labour Welfare Fund for Limestone and Dolomite workers here today. The CAC, presided over by the Minister, agreed to enhance the welfare amount in various schemes. Inter-alia, it included enhancing the housing subsidy from Rs 40,000 to Rs 75,000 and increasing the financial assistance given for daughters’ marriage from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000. In order to augment the fund for the welfare of workers, Minister appealed to the employers to enhance the cess rate, and it was decided to raise the cess from Rs 1 per tonne to Rs 1.5 per tonne of limestone/ dolomite. Right in the beginning of the meeting, the Minister expressed concern over the size of the welfare fund, and also its proper and complete utilization for workers’ benefits.
With regard to housing subsidy for workers, Minister said that holistic and realistic support must be provided to the worker for construction of such dwellings. Apart from the raised housing subsidy of Rs 75,000, he added that state governments will be requested to provide at least Rs 25,000 from the state coffers, and facilitate bank-financing of Rs 40,000 for the beneficiary. These, when clubbed with workers’ modest savings, will enable flow of adequate funds for construction of a sustainable dwelling, he added.
Shri Tomar also directed that preventive and promotional wellness checks should be conducted for all workers on a regular basis, health camps should be organized to increase awareness about welfare schemes and adequate publicity of the available schemes should be ensured for all workers. Shri Tomar requested the support of management and unions to ensure that all the mine workers in unorganized sectors are covered under the Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojana (RSBY), so that their health care is assured. He assured that Welfare Commissioners of the central government in charge of each state will work as facilitators in this process, and help the industry to complete RSBY enrolment process for each such worker.
In line with the Government’s vision to skill Indian youth, the proposal to use 20% of the Welfare Fund to award annual stipend of Rs 10,000 to students undergoing ITI courses, received the Committee’s nod. The CAC deliberated upon furthering the government’s Jan Dhan Yojana by mandatory opening of bank accounts under RSBY, and seeding of Aadhaar number wherever possible.
The Limestone and Dolomite Mines Labour Welfare Fund Act 1972 is one of the five Labour Welfare Fund Acts dealing with the welfare of the non-coal mine workers in the country. The scheme, which provides health, education, housing, recreation and social security benefits to mine workers, is financed out of the proceeds from the levy of Cess under the Act, and executed through Welfare Commissioners across the country.