Construction worker Kundan Prasad is thankful to have had a labour card before the onset of the pandemic, because it enabled him to sustain his family through the lockdowns even when he had no means to earn a livelihood.

Kundan Prasad is a 30-year-old construction labourer at a site in Noida. He moved to the National Capital Region in 2015, from the Latehar district in Jharkhand, in the hope of financially supporting his family of six. “I’ve been a construction worker for over 5 years, but I’ve never seen a ban on construction activity till the pandemic hit,” said Kundan. 

When the lockdown was announced, Kundan, like thousands of other migrants, had to walk back home. Worried about the lack of income and unable to find work back in the village, Kundan was losing hope. But the labour card came to his rescue. 

Kundan got his labour card, formally known as the Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) card — an official document that validates his employment in the construction industry and provides him access to a host of government schemes and benefits — when he joined the ATS construction site in Noida. During the tough months of the lockdown, he received a cash transfer of ₹2000 rupees for his sustenance expenses, thanks to his labour card. “This money was very useful when I had no source of income. My family and I survived on that money,” he said. 

When he returned to Delhi to resume work, he knew he had to get his labour card renewed for future Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs). Luckily, Kundan was aware of this and was supported with his application. As part of the REVIVE Alliance, the UNDP-funded information session held by Haqdarshak served as a useful guide in renewing his BOCW card for another year. 

He had also lost his PAN card on his journey back home during the lockdown. The REVIVE team assisted him in getting a new PAN card, which acts as a critical KYC (Know Your Customer) document and serves as the basis for DBTs from the government. “Thanks to the renewed BOCW card and the PAN card, I’m less worried about the next lockdown,” said Kundan.

This story was editorialised by Raveena Joseph