I have great pleasure to be amidst all of you at Coimbatore,the textile capital of South India and the commercial hub of Tamil Nadu, to inaugurate the newly constructed buildingfor the Medical College and the Hospital. On this occasion, the Central Government has also handed overthe existing hospital, the medical college, and related buildings to the Government of Tamil Nadu.It reinforces my government’s commitment to co-operative federalism. I hope that the Government of Tamil Nadu will act quickly to start the College.
This project worth 580 crore rupees will be a boon to ESICbeneficiariesand their family members in and around Coimbatore.Of the 100 MBBS seats proposed here, 20 seats will be reserved for the children of persons insuredunder the ESI scheme.We should strive to make this medical college and hospital a model for high quality medical education and treatment to workers of the State.
My government is committed to the development of a generous and comprehensive social safety net for all workers.For the over 45 crores unorganized sector workers, we have, in addition to the RSBY health insurance program, started the Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, and the Atal Pension Yojanato provide life and accident insurance. This commitment to the builders of modern India comes from the firm belief that a ‘Swasth and Samridh Shramikwill make a Samridh Rashtra’.
We have initiated major reforms of the EPFO and ESICfor the benefit of organized sector employees. A Universal Account Number has so far been allotted to over 6 crore sector workers, enabling portability of their EPF accounts.Further, we propose to expand coverage and offer additional facilities and services through the ESIC.
The ESI Scheme is based on the Gandhian principle of “contributions as per the ability and benefits as per the requirement”. This principle entitles an insured person or their family members to uniform benefits though only paying a contribution proportionate to his or her wage.Apart from Medical Benefit, ESIC also provides sickness, disablement, dependants, maternity, and unemployment allowance benefits to the insured persons. Its unique character, with no restrictions on the expenditure and instances where more than 30 to 40 lakh rupees have been spent on treatments, means that ESIC health scheme has been a boon to millions of workers.
Friends, from itsmodest beginning in 1952 with just two centers in Kanpur and Delhi, the ESI Scheme today is implemented in 830 centers in 34 States and Union Territories.It covers over 7 lakh factories and establishments across the countryand benefits 2 crore workers and about 8 crore beneficiaries.In Tamil Nadu, the scheme has over 85,000 participating employersand over 28 lakh insured persons, with Coimbatore itself having nearly 27,000 employers.It is available in 31 districts of Tamil Nadu.
There are ten ESI hospitals in Tamil Nadu. After handing over this hospital, there will be eight ESI Hospitals in the state run by the State Government.The ESIC Hospital Tirunelveliis proposed for upgradation from 50 to 100 beds.There is a large network of 210 ESI dispensaries in the State for out-patient treatment for the insured persons and their family members.Coimbatore itself has 50 dispensaries.
My Government is dedicated to the welfare of our brothers and sisterswho are our Rashtra Nirmatas. Sensing the need for expansion of ESIC, I had launched a Second Generation Reform Agenda named ESIC 2.0 in July last yearduring the Indian Labour Conference held in New Delhi.
The coverage of ESI scheme has been extended to the remaining North-East StatesArunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur and Andaman & Nicobar Island. It is proposed to expand the coverage from only the industrial and commercial clusters within a district to the entire district by 31st March this year.Since 1st August last year, the scheme has been extended to construction workers.
I strongly believe in the improvement of public service delivery standards.In keeping with this, several initiatives have been started to improve the quality of service deliveryin ESI hospitals.They includeonline availability of electronic health record of ESI beneficiaries, establishment of an emergency medical helpline, and creation of special out patient services for senior citizens and differently-abled persons in ESIC hospitals.To improve cleanliness, the Abhiyan Indradhanushchanges bedsheets according to the rainbow pattern each day of the week.And cleanliness is an important aspect of preventive healthcare. Studies show that it can lead to savings of almost 7000 rupees per year for a poor family.
Among other initiatives, the ESIC has resolved to adopt two model hospitals in each State, apart from a mother and child care hospital. I am happy that ESIC proposes to expand coverage by complementing its own services with Public Private Partnerships.Apart from cancer detection, cardiology treatment, and dialysis, the Corporation also proposes to offer in a phased manner pathological and X-ray facilities in all its dispensaries through PPPs.Besides allopathic treatment, ESIC hospitals will also provide AYUSH treatment in a phased manner.
Friends, my Government has taken a number of path-breaking steps for the welfare of workforce of our country.From September 2014, we have revised the Employee Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) pension to a minimum of 1000 rupees per month.The wage ceiling for EPF benefits has been raised from 6500 to 15000 rupees. An EPFO Mobile App has been launched for easier access to its services for both workers and employers.The Bonus Act has been amended to increase the ceilings for eligibility and bonus payable to 21,000 and 7000 rupees per month respectively.
Keeping in mind our commitment to “minimum government, maximum governance”,the Ministry is simplifying central labour laws by consolidating the existing 44 laws into four labour codes. Namely, on wages, industrial relations, safety and security, and health. This would considerably increase the ease of doing business and facilitate job creation, without compromising on the genuine protections and rights available for workers.We are progressing on the reform path by building consensus on these reforms through extensive stakeholder consultations with employers, worker’s representatives, and state governments.
A Shram Suvidha Portal has been created for online services related to 16 labor laws, including administering a process of transparent and random inspections of businesses.A LIN number has been issued to nearly one million employers,enabling them to process single online filings oneight labour laws.The services offered by ESIC and EPFOhave been integrated with the e-Biz portal of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion to promote ease of business and limit transaction costs.Further, it is proposed to promulgatenew EPFO and ESIC Acts providing more choice, increased coverage among workers and employers, and better and expanded range of services for organized sector workers.
Our plans to expand ESIC facilities, indeed the establishment of this medical college itself, is part of a larger plan to upgrade the facilities for medical education and specialized tertiary care.
We have also approved a scheme for up-gradation of existing State and Central Government medical colleges to increase MBBS seats. Through this, we hope to increase 10,000 MBBS seats and support the colleges with funds for equipment and infrastructure. So far 23 medical colleges have been approved to increase over 1,700 MBBS seats. I am happy to inform that four state government medical colleges in Tamil Nadu at Coimbatore, Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Madurai have been approved for upgradation by adding 345 more MBBS seats.
With similar objective, we are also promoting the establishment of AIIMS like institutions across the country. One such institution has also been approved for Tamil Nadu and with the active support of the State Government I hope this institution will start admissions quickly.
Friends, we all know that the Father of the Constitution is Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar. But not many of us are aware of the immense contribution made by Babasaheb to the formulation of our Labour Laws.I am therefore happy to inform thatMinistry of Labour & Employment organized a conference in Delhi last month to commemorate the 125th Birth Anniversary Year of Dr Ambedkar.I urge each one of you to read the booklet“Dr B R Ambedkar – Labour Welfare & Empowerment: Initiatives to make his vision a reality”whichwas released on that occasion.We are committed to resolve to work collectively and collaboratively to realize the vision of Dr. Ambedkar for labour welfare.
Friends, industrial peace and harmony can be achieved only when the goals of employment and employabilityare in tune with the goals of industrial development and growth. It is our shared vision to have an environment which is conducive for inclusive growth and development of the country. I assure the state government all the cooperation from the central government in all itsefforts in this direction.
I am encouraged to work more for the welfare of the workforce of India and strive towards “Making India a Better Work Place for All”.
Let us all come together in making our country the best place to work and live in.