165k unorganised workers registered on first day of e-Shram portal launch

Bussiness standard, August 27, 2021

About 165,000 workers in the unorganised sector registered themselves on the e-Shram portal on the first day of its launch on Thursday.

The portal, which aims to build a comprehensive database of unorganised workers in the country, would ensure the formalisation of the workforce, industry bodies said.

After unveiling the portal, Labour and Employment Minister Bhupender Yadav said there were an estimated 380 million workers in the unorganised sector, and the platform would help provide the benefits of various central and state welfare schemes to them, particularly in times like these.

There are varying estimates of the number of unorganised workers. According to the Economic Survey (2018-19), 93 per cent of the total workforce in India is in the unorganised sector. According to an estimate, the total workforce in the country is 450 million. Ninety-three per cent of this comes to 418.5 million.

Workers registered on the portal would be given accidental insurance cover. They will be eligible for Rs 2 lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs 1 lakh in case of partial disability.

Yadav said the registration process was made simple so that every worker was covered. He informed that up to four workers can register through one mobile handset. “Those who don’t have mobile handsets can go to the nearest centre and get themselves registered by giving even thumb impressions,” he said.

Since migrant workers keep changing their economic activities, their registration could be updated through just an SMS, the minister said.

He said various trade unions were consulted before launching the portal. Union leaders wanted to know whether various sectoral schemes would be merged into one. To this, Yadav replied that no scheme would be merged.

Confederation of Indian Industry Director General Chandrajit Banerjee said building a national database on unorganised workers was central to the effort towards the formalisation of the workforce. “Taken together with the reform of labour laws through the four labour codes, this measure represents a major turning point in the labour environment of the country,” he said.

Yadav emphasised on cooperative federalism for making last-mile delivery of the schemes.

Labour and Employment Secretary Apurva Chandra said the data would be shared with state governments.

About Rs 704 crore has been budgeted for the portal for a period of five years. The portal will have a database of all kinds of workers in the unorganised sector. These workers are of many kinds such as migrant workforce, street vendors, and domestic workers. It will also have a database on gig and platform workers. For this purpose, the labour minister had launched the logo of the portal on Tuesday.

As part of the process, the workers will be issued an e-SHRAM card containing a 12-digit unique number. A worker can register himself using his Aadhaar number and bank account details, apart from filling other necessary details like date of birth, home town, mobile number, and social category.

Minister of State for Labour and Employment Rameswar Teli said the card would be valid across India in line with the ‘one nation, one ration card’ scheme.

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