Maharashtra unboxes bundle of gifts, proposes to extend benefits of EPF and insurance schemes for sugarcane farmers

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has proposed to extend benefits of Employees Provident Fund (EPF) as well as insurance schemes to those cutting, harvesting and transporting sugarcane.

The state Labor Department said that the state had around eight lakh labourers engaged in these works in 168 cooperative and private sugar factories. It has been proposed to extend benefits of EPF, insurance schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, financial assistance for children’s education and housing to these labourers.

These are proposed schemes and the state government will soon fix the criteria for them. For the implementation of the scheme, there will be an office in Parli in Beed district, as large number of cane labourers are from there. A drive would also be undertaken to register them.

In 2014, the state government had announced setting up of a Sugarcane Labourers Welfare Board to be named after late BJP leader Gopinath Munde. However, instead of the Board, the state government has now come out with a welfare scheme for sugarcane labourers, which was approved by the cabinet in December last year.

It has been noted that a sub-committee of the state Legislative Assembly had suggested making sugar factories the principal employer and cane labourers its part. Besides, it was also proposed to collect levy from the sugar factories for welfare schemes for cane labourers.

This would have established the relationship between the sugar factories and cane labourers as employer and worker. It meant these labourers should be given social security benefits such as employees provident fund etc. But the factories opposed it citing financial burden.

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