Bengaluru: The Public Accounts Committee of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly has asked the Karnataka government how it distributed Rs 5,000 each to 1.25 lakh migrant construction labourers. The objective of the distribution was to prevent a mass exodus amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The reason for the question? They found that the moneys were distributed despite the government lacking basic contact details such as names, addresses, or even the districts in which they lived.
According to NDTV (reachable on this link), the PAC has written to the Labour Secretary to reply with details within 15 days.
HK Patil, the PAC Chairman, said, “To my utter surprise, even the names of the districts of these beneficiaries were not known. The committee felt something fishy was going on”
This distribution was a part of the 1600 Crore relief package that announced by CM BS Yediyurappa to alleviate the suffering of the marginalized and farmers as the lockdown was eased and included migrant workmen. They were critical to the construction industry which had suffered greatly because of the lockdown, and even the special trains arranged for them were canceled in an effort to retain them.
The Government had distributed Rs: 2000 earlier to the 15.8 lakh workers it said was registered with them. The package would provide another Rs: 3000 to them. The PAC has questioned this “registration data” which according to the NDTV article shows 43,000 registered in state capital Bengaluru but 66,000 in Bidar district. “How does Bengaluru, which is an active place for construction, have fewer workers than Bidar and many other places?” Mr. Patil asked.
In response, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan said that the government has adopted the “best possible practice”. “Still, if there is suspicion, we are always open to an investigation,” he stated.