Maharashtra: 13 lakh construction workers will be denied Rs 1 mid-day meals from Nov 1

Mid-day reports that a March 2019 scheme of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government led by Udhav Thackeray (Shiv Sena) is now being summarily scrapped, without consultation by the Eknath-Shinde-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government
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The Shinde-Fadnavis government has decided to discontinue the five-year-old scheme from November 1 reports Prasun Choudhari for Mid-day. The Maharashtra government announced the discontinuation of the mid-day meal scheme for construction workers from November 1. Launched in March 2019, the scheme provided nutritious meals to registered construction labourers for Rs 1.

A unique initiative of the MMVA government that allowed construction workers to have nutritious meals for Rs 1, it was initially conceived to support the welfare of construction workers registered with the  Maharashtra Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (MBOCWWB) . For just Rs 1, these workers could avail of a nutritious meal consisting of chapati, sabji, daal, rice, salad, pickle and jaggery. In the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the scheme was extended to non-registered construction workers. With nearly 13 lakh registered construction workers in Maharashtra, the program ensured sustenance to a large part of the workforce. Figures show that while under implementation, the scheme managed to serve approximately seven to eight lakh workers with nearly five crore meals every month, addressing a pressing need for affordable, nutritious food among this vulnerable population.

Sources from the state labour ministry tolf Mid-day, “Mumbai and Konkan division have more than 10,000 registered labourers. The common complaint from these divisions is that most of the labourers do not get food under the scheme.” This “decision” without any consultation or debate to terminate the scheme was communicated through an official order, which cited several reasons for the closure.

The order reportedly states, “Considering the completion of the five-year term as mentioned in the Request For Proposal document and other financial as well as administrative issues, it has been decided to close the said mid-day meal scheme from November 1, 2023.” While this decision might appear to be a matter of routine administration, it has significant implications for the construction workers in Maharashtra. For many, the mid-day meal scheme represented a small yet critical source of relief. This move comes at a time when construction workers in Maharashtra are grappling with a myriad of issues, including unstable employment, inadequate wages and a lack of social security.


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