Monday, August 15, 2016

Government doubled maternity leaves to 26 weeks

Rajyasabha passed amendments to Maternity Benefit Act [1961] to increase maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. Further, this benefit can be availed before 8 weeks from the date of expected delivery (earlier it was 6 weeks). Maternity Benefit Act covers establishments employing 10 or more workers.

Bill also introduces 12 weeks’ maternity leave to,
a. Woman who legally adopts a child below three months of age.
b. Commissioning mother (biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo implanted in another woman). 

12 weeks will be calculated from the date child is handed over to adoptive/commissioning mother.

In addition to this, every establishment with 50 or more employees have to provide crèche facilities within a prescribed distance.  Woman will be allowed 4 visits a day (including her interval for rest).

With the passage of Maternity Benefit Bill 2016 in coming winter session in Loksabha, as many as 1.8 million women in formal sector will get its benefits. However, this law will not provide any relief for more than 10 crore women working in farms or as domestic help.

Government is also trying for a contributory maternity benefit scheme for unorganized sector employing more than 10 crore women. This will significant help them with the expenses due to child birth.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tripurasundari – All the way from North East

Sabroom - Chittagong distance
I was planning for a north-east trip on last May for 17 days. Due to some personal reasons I had to cancel that journey in last moment. One problem I faced while planning was - so many places to visit but limited transportation facilities. Even if I want, I wouldn’t be able to visit all North Eastern States due to lack of quick links between them. It is indeed hard to build railway tracks and 4/6/8 lane roads through those mountain ranges.

What make me smile now is the news that, rail track to Agartala became broad-gauge and new train Tripura Sundari express started running between Tripura and New Delhi. A regular train service between Agartala and Kolkata will start on next month.

Government also started working on a direct link between Agartala and Akhoura (Bangladesh), which will allow passengers and commodities to travel seamless across the border.

Tripura is located very close to Bay of Bengal in maps; but without any direct links, as it is separated by Bangladesh territory. Now a new rail track will be extended to Sabroom (the southernmost city in Tripura). The best part is, this town is just 60km from Chittagong Seaport. This will make the movement of goods from rest of India to North East very easy. For e.g. from Chennai, Visag, Paradip, Kolkata etc to Chittagong and then from there to other north-eastern states of India through rail and road.

Next time when I go there an itinerary through Tripura's rail network is definitely in the plan.