Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) was pulled up by the Supreme Court for trying to ignore their responsibility in ensuring compliance of an Act meant for the welfare of building and construction workers in Mumbai.
From the court bench Justices, Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta have said that an affidavit proposed to be filed by SRA was “extremely blurred” and the authority, without trying to pass on the buck to builders and contractors, should ensure compliance of the provisions of the Act.
However, Shekhar Naphade Senior Advocate and also representing the Maharashtra government mentioned to the court that there are 339 projects under the SRA but they have not received data from the authority regarding registration of workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996.
As per the Bench statement, it said “ Non-registration of workers is an exploitation and you (SRA) are saying that “ Yes, I know it is exploitation but I cannot do anything because I have no power”
The Top court also said to SRA that “SRA is much more than a planning agency. You are virtually the implementing authority. Why can’t you issue a notice to the builders and contractors saying how many workers are employed with them and how many of them have not been registered”
The court also asked SRA that “ Please do not shrug off your responsibilities. At what cost you are shrugging off your responsibilities? There are poor people. Tell your CEO that you have a job to do”
Maharashtra government has revealed to the court that the state Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority has 149 ongoing projects in Mumbai and they have a substantial chunk of land there. The state government further says to the court that there were around 53,000 construction and building workers in Mumbai and registration process of those who have not been registered yet was going on.
Within three weeks the chief executive officer of SRA to take immediate steps in this regard and file a compliance report. The top court also said it was extremely unfortunate that around 5,000 construction workers in Mumbai were not registered under the Act and directed the Maharashtra government to take action against the builders and contractors in this regard.