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The government aims to link the e-Sharm portal to social security schemes.

New Delhi: About 7.7 crore unorganised sector workers, accounting for 20% of the targeted 38.37 crore workers, across the country had registered on the e-Sharm portal by Monday, November 15, .

The e-Sharm portal is the first centralised database of unorganised workers nationwide seeded with Aadhaar.

Odisha with the achievement of 87% of the targeted registrations emerged on the top,

followed by West Bengal (65%),

Chhattisgarh (33%),

Jharkhand (31%)

and Bihar (25%).

The response to registration on the e-Sharm portal in these states could be an indication of the suffering faced by unorganised sector and migrant workers in the aftermath of lockdown and restrictions imposed due to COVID-19.

For the first time with the e-Sharm portal, the Union government will have a centralised database with Aadhaar numbers seeded of migrant workers, gig workers, agricultural workers, anganwadi workers, street vendors, domestic workers, among other unorganised sector workers. So far there has been no such database for unorganised sector workers. Only data on organised sector workers is available through the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation.

With the conception of the e-Sharm portal, the government claims that will be closer to providing a universal account number and an e-Sharm Card to unorganised workers. Efforts are on to link this number with social security schemes in the future, it has said.

For now, the government has already announced its intention to link accidental insurance with registration on the e-Sharm portal. According to this, if a registered worker meets with an accident, she will be eligible for Rs 2 lakh on death or permanent disability, and Rs 1 lakh on partial disability.

As for registrations, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh have higher targets in terms of absolute numbers. But registrations in these states are yet to pick up pace, with the target achievement rate hovering around 10% or below as per data on November 11.

The government has set the deadline to complete the registration of 38.37 crore informal sector workers across the country by March 2022. As of November 15, a total of 7.73 crore registrations were completed on the portal, with the daily average of registrations around 12 lakh over the last week.

In 2017, a proposal was brought up by the Union government to provide an Unorganized Workers’ Identification Number (UWIN) without any smart card. It was estimated that it would cost Rs 4,02.7 crore for the implementation during 2017-18 and 2018-19. In June 2018, the labor ministry issued tender inviting bids for the creation of a national platform of unorganized workers and allotment of an Aadhaar-seeded identification number.

In December 2020, the labour ministry sought help from other ministries and departments in the creation of the new database for unorganized sector workers, aiming to operationalising it by June this year. It further sought the help of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) with the design and building of the portal.

With the ministry missing the June deadline, the Supreme Court slammed the Union government, saying “the apathy and lackadaisical attitude by the Ministry of Labour and Employment” were “unpardonable”. The apex court set a new deadline as July 31 for the launch of the national portal. Finally, the e-Sharm portal, after many hiccups, was launched on August 26.

As for registrations in absolute figures, West Bengal tops the list with 1.88 crore workers already registered, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s 1.42 crore, Odisha’s 1.15 crore, Bihar’s 89.17 lakh and Jharkhand’s 36.34 lakh.

In terms of occupation-wise registration, workers from agriculture top the list with 53.8%, followed by the construction sector’s 12.2%, domestic and household sector’s 8.7%, and apparel sector’s 6.2%.

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