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India’s informal sector database has seen more than 6.5 million registrations as on Tuesday in less than three weeks of its launch.

The number looks promising as two previous attempts over a decade ago by the central government to put such a system in place had failed. It also gains significance in view of the massive reverse migration in 2020, following the coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the virus.

The informal sector database offers registered members a universal account number, which would make it easier for them to get social security benefits and ration cards at the place of work.

Creation of a national database of all unorganized workers will help the government focus on targeted and last-mile delivery of welfare schemes for these workers, according to the Union labour ministry.

Registered workers will also get accidental insurance benefits and their family will be eligible for 2 lakh death or permanent disability cover and 1 lakh benefit on partial disability, the labour ministry said.

The ministry is discussing to set a monthly target for new registrations as it seeks to bring on board 380 million informal and gig workers on a single platform to track migration from the informal to formal sectors and capture their economic and job profile, besides offering social security benefits in times of need.

“States will get a monthly target that will be achievable. We are working on the model and processes and talking to the states to set targets. It will help the system to stand scrutiny," said a government official seeking anonymity.

Officials from zonal offices of the central labour commission have been asked to talk to industry representatives and local authorities to speed up the registration process, the official said.

Central labour commissioner D.P.S. Negi held a discussion with a few state-run companies, including Indian Oil’s Mathura Refinery and state-run banks last week.

Last week, Union minister of state for labour and employment Rameshwar Teli said almost 2.7 million informal workers were registered in the first two weeks ended 9 September and “the government is actively cooperating with all states and other stakeholders for registering the workers". The number has more than doubled to 6.5 million by the end of the day on Tuesday, the government official mentioned above said.

On 26 August, the Centre had rolled out the unorganized workers database.

“The e-Shram portal will cover all unorganized workers of the nation and help link them to social security schemes of the government of India. The portal will prove to be a huge boost for the last-mile delivery of services," labour and employment minister Bhupendra Yadav had said.

The Union government aims to enrol 380 million informal workers, with support from states, as part of its exercise to create a national database for all informal sector and gig workers and those working in companies deploying less than 10 employees.

The registration can be done at more than 300,000 common service centres and at post offices across the country.

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