HC asks Delhi govt to provide medical assistance to construction workers infected with COVID-19

The Economic Times | April 22, 2021

The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the AAP government to provide medical assistance to the construction workers who got infected by COVID-19.

The high court directed the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, which comes under the Delhi government, to implement its direction of providing medical assistance and not to involve in any complicated procedure which would render the order infructuous.

“The counsel has suggested and we find merit in it that if any construction worker is found COVID-19 positive, he should be provided medical assistance on production of RT-PCR report,” a bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli said.

The bench was hearing an application seeking to be impleaded as a party to a petition of advocate Rakesh Malhotra related to COVID-19 testings and infrastructure, which was revived by the high court itself on April 19, in view of surge in coronavirus cases.

The application by National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, represented through advocates Shyel Trehan and Chirayu Jain, sought direction to the Delhi government and the Board to frame expeditious procedure for medical relief under The Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) Act for building workers and their dependants who get infected by COVID-19.

The counsel said that Section 22(1)(f) of the BOCW Act and Rule 280 of Delhi BOCW Rules provide for medical assistance to be paid in case a building worker or their dependent is affected by major ailment and the financial assistance shall be Rs 2,000 for the first five days and Rs 200 each for remaining days, subject to maximum of Rs 10,000.

The high court had on April 19 said that the Centre and AAP government had miserably failed to think about migrant workers during the 2020 lockdown and lessons were required to be learnt from it as daily wagers were again going to face the grim reality with the imposition of fresh six-day lockdown in the national capital in the wake of second wave of COVID-19.

The high court had said as the Delhi government has announced a six-day lockdown from the night of April 19 to April 26 morning, the reports showed that migrant workers are again going back to their native places from here.

The bench had directed the Delhi government to arrange funds for providing food and other essential items to daily wagers and if need arises, withdraw the amount from the corpus under the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act.

It had added that the Delhi government shall utilise the services of contractors who used to prepare mid-day meals in schools which are closed now.

The high court, on its own, has revived the disposed of petition filed by Malhotra, noting that the virus has raised its “ugly head” once again and the pandemic is raging with much greater intensity and “it is evident that the healthcare infrastructure is at the stage of imminent collapse”.