As told to Parliament (September 16, 2020): No data on sanitation worker deaths amid COVID-19

All that was discussed in the House through the day  

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 16 September 2020

No data is maintained by the Government of India on sanitation workers, who have died due to health and safety hazards related to cleaning hospitals and medical waste during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Ramdas Athawale, Union minister of state for social justice and empowerment, said in the Rajya Sabha September 16, 2020. 

LPG refills

A sum of Rs 9,670.41 crore was spent on the Free Refill Scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) during the COVID-19 crisis from March-August, 2020, Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharamendra Pradhan said.

Of this, Uttar Pradesh received the maximum (Rs 1,817.28 crore), followed by West Bengal (Rs 1,169.38 crore). Over 130.6 million refills were delivered during the March-August 2020 period, Pradhan added.

He also informed that the government did not have any plans to extend the PMUY and relax its eligibility conditions to make any special provision for states like Jharkhand, keeping in view the corona crisis and the problems of migrant labourers.

Labour laws 

Under the Factories Act, state governments were empowered to issue notification to extend working hours without any reference to the Government of India, Santosh Kr Gangwar, Union minister of state for labour and employment, said.

He was answering a question in the Rajya Sabha about whether it was a fact that many states including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat had made changes in labour laws through ordinances or executive orders during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Some of the state governments have notified an increase in working hours to address the issues of limited availability of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Safe urban residential facilities

The Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs), a sub-scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U), had been launched on July 31, for providing accommodation at affordable rent to urban migrants / poor from the economically weaker sections and low income groups, Hardeep Singh Puri, Union minister of state (independent charge) of the ministry of housing and urban Affairs, said in the Rajya Sabha.

This scheme will be implemented through the following two models, Puri added:

  • Model-1: Utilising existing government-funded vacant houses in cities by converting them into ARHCs under the public private partnership mode or by public agencies.
  • Model-2: Incentivising private / public entities to construct, operate and maintain ARHCs on their own vacant land.

Accidents in steel plants

In the last two years (2018-19 to 2019-20), 61 hazardous incidents and 33 deaths had taken place in the two steel manufacturing central public sector enterprises — Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), according to data presented in the Rajya Sabha by Pradhan, Union minister of steel.

Of these, SAIL accounted for 44 hazardous incidents and 29 deaths. However, a closer look at the data showed a decline in the number of deaths due to such accidents. 

CNG network 

Approximately 9,228 million metric standard cubic meters (MMSCM) of natural gas had been produced domestically and approximately 9,966 MMSCM of LNG had been imported into the country during April-July, 2020, Pradhan told the Rajya Sabha.

This gas also catered to the demand of Piped Natural Gas and Compressed Natural Gas, Pradhan said.

The Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board had authorised 232 geographical areas, covering 407 districts, for the development of the City Gas Distribution network across the country.

Salaried job losses

Some 18.9 million salaried jobs have been lost in the country during April-July 2020, according to the recent report of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy.

But for framing government policies, only official data are used and data captured by non-government agencies are not referred, Gangwar told the Rajya Sabha.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.