Jammu: Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta chaired a meeting to review the functioning of the Labour and Employment Department in Jammu and Kashmir.
Commissioner Secretary, Labour & Employment Department, Chief Executive Officer, J&K Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, Labour Commissioner, and other officers of the Department attended the meeting.
The Chief Secretary observed that as per the CMIE data, the unemployment rate in Jammu and Kashmir has decreased to 15% in December 2021, and impressed upon the Department to further improve employment avenues in the Union territory.
It was informed that the Labour Department, upon formal registration, provides benefits to building workers, factory workers, migrant contractors, migrant labour, contract labour, shop workers, and boiler workers. The Department also adjudicates cases under the Workmen Compensation Act, Payment of Wages Act, Industrial Dispute Act, Minimum Wages Act, Payment of Gratuity Act; and provides relief to the aggrieved labour.
The Department was asked to boost registrations under various categories of workers by shifting to complete digital mode within a period of one month. Taking note of pendency in cases filed before District Labour Courts, the Chief Secretary directed the immediate implementation of digital court proceedings for early resolution of conflicts.
Further, the Department was asked to collaborate with other stakeholders including government departments to identify and register sector-wise eligible workers in a mission mode.
It was informed that the Department has so far registered 10,95,404 workers with 41.50% female and 58.49% male workers engaged in the unorganized sector. The agriculture, construction, household worker, apparel, healthcare, transport, and handicraft sectors continue to see high registration rates followed by tourism, retail, education, and manufacturing.
Under the Employees State Insurance scheme, the workers are being provided medical-cum-accidental insurance, in addition to privileged access to the Department’s worker-dedicated hospital and dispensaries at Rangreth, Khanmoh, BAM Khan and Zainakot in Kashmir province, and Talab Tillo, Kathua, Bari-Brahmana, and Digiana in Jammu province. So far, an amount of Rs. 6.05 crore has been disbursed as medical reimbursement in favour of the registered workers.
The Chief Secretary directed the Department to develop the hospital and dispensaries as model healthcare institutions and further link the registered beneficiaries with benefits under other insurance schemes as well, including Ayushman Bharat and Pradhan Mantri Surakhsha Beema Yojana to ensure maximum health benefits and accidental cover to workers. He further directed the rollout of an extensive IEC campaign to generate awareness on these schemes and benefits to further boost registrations.
Moreover, the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board is also providing assistance in cases of temporary and permanent injury, chronic disease, maternity benefits, death/funeral assistance, and educational assistance to all registered workers.
The Chief Secretary observed that the coverage of beneficiaries is not adequate as of now and directed the Department to scale up the distribution of benefits under these schemes. It was asked to ensure the extension of educational assistance to cover approximately 4 lakh children of the registered workers, besides ensuring time-bound disbursement of funeral assistance to the registered workers, preferably within a week.
During COVID-19, the Board provided financial assistance of Rs. 50.03 crore to 1,56,876 registered active Building and Other Construction Workers in four installments of Rs. 1,000 each during 2020-21, and Rs. 70.55 crore to 3,43,405 registered workers during 2021-22.
While reviewing the functioning of the Employment Department, the Chief Secretary directed greater technological interventions along with deeper inter-departmental convergence and consultations for systemized registration, skilling, and employment of the youth. The Department was advised to tie up with Mission Youth and Skill Development Department for this purpose.
In a bid to move towards evolving a model career scheme, the Department was also asked to develop standardized career counseling modules in consultation with the field experts and other stakeholders and explore facilities for online mentor programmes to provide wide-scale guidance and assistance, especially during the COVID times. It was directed to emphasize automation of services and conduct regular job fairs to streamline employment generation.
Regarding the ease of access to benefits under various social security schemes for construction workers, it was informed that through departmental convergence under the e-Shram portal, the registration information is being accessed by multiple departments and agencies for ensuring timely disbursement of benefits to the verified beneficiaries.