New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said that the Centre will direct state governments to utilise the construction workers' welfare fund to support these workers against economic disruption due to the 21-day lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
Addressing the media here, Sitharaman said that the fund created by a central government's Act currently has about Rs 31,000 crore in it. A total of around 3.5 crore workers are registered under the Act.
"Obviously, because of the way we have taken a call to contain the coronavirus with a lockdown so that people stay at home and don't expose themselves to the risk, as a result, many building and construction workers may be feeling the impact because their work has come to a halt," she said.
"There is a welfare fund for building and other construction workers' welfare. We intend to give directions to the states to utilize this fund to provide assistance and support to those workers in the construction and building sectors to protect them against any economic disruption."
Several experts and industry players, including developers, had demanded economic support to the construction workers whose work has come to a standstill due to the lockdown.
Along with other major announcements, the minister also announced that the government has directed states to use district mineral fund for the coronavirus medical expenses.
States will use district mineral fund for medical screening, facilities, and healthcare needs, she said.
Concerns have been raised in the past few days over the medical infrastructure in the country to deal with the disease and the required funds for the requisite facilities.