The parliamentary standing committee on labour is scrutinising the impact of different Central programmes during the pandemic and lockdown particularly on migrants
Members of the health ministry are expected to participate in the discussion
NEW DELHI: The ambitious health programmes of National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Ayushman Bharat Yojana and use of Aarogya Setu App launched by the Union government to counter the spread of covid-19 pandemic in the country are likely to come under scrutiny at the meeting of parliamentary committee on labour as members of the health ministry are expected to participate in the discussion.
The standing committee on labour is scrutinising the impact of different programmes of the Centre during the pandemic and nationwide lockdown particularly on inter-state migrant, unorganized and informal sector workers. The committee held its last meeting on this issue on 31 August before when it was scheduled to submit a report to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla ahead of the start of the monsoon session of Parliament, expected to begin in the second week of September.
“We are planning to understand how Ayushman Bharat programme has helped people during this health crisis and its impact on the people. We also want to understand the insurance scheme of Union government and how people have benefited from it in the last few months especially during nationwide lockdown," said a senior leader who is part of the committee.
This is not the first time that members of the standing committee on labour have invited different ministries of the Union government to scrutinise the impact of government programmes during the time of Covid-19. Earlier, officials of the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, and members of the labour ministry have been invited for discussion by the committee.
“We expect to submit the final report before the monsoon session so this would be the final meeting with the officials of Union government before the final report. This report will focus completely on migrant labourers and unorganised sector labourers during covid-19 and nationwide lockdown," the said the member of the committee.
Members of the labour committee believe that the final report could have been prepared earlier, but it got delayed because of health ministry officials who have not appeared before the it even after repeated invites by the panel.
“There has been a delay from health ministry in both appearing before the committee and also in giving information. The officials of the health ministry have only given guidelines issued by the Union government during nationwide (lockdown) but the committee wants to understand the impact of government programmes and not look at guidelines," the member of the committee added.
Members of the standing committee also argue that since state governments play an important role in health sector of the country going through guidelines of the Union government would not solve the purpose of the committee to understand the impact of covid-19 on different sectors.
“If we get down to talk about health ministry guidelines then officials of health ministry would only say that state governments have to implement these guidelines. That defeats the purpose of the committee and the report which is being prepared by the standing committee," said the member.
Apart from health ministry officials, Monday’s meeting will also see officials from the ministry of consumer affairs to brief the committee on the same subject. Officials of the ministry had earlier appeared in the meeting on 17 August and their representation will continue on Monday. The Centre's move to provide free food grain to migrant workers has been under the scrutiny of the labour committee.
India imposed a nearly three month-long lockdown earlier this year to control the spread of covid-19 virus—an issue which has been the key focus of the labour committee since meetings of parliamentary panels resumed in July end. Monday will be the fourth meeting of the labour panel related to issues of fallout of the pandemic particularly on migrant workers and those from unorganized sector.