By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Oct 7: The Assam Tea Corporation (ATC) has long been neglecting the tea labourers’ welfare in the State. This was alleged by the Bharatiya Janata Majdoor Mahasangha (BJMM) general secretary, Sudip Das, in a conversation with The Sentinel.
“The tea labourers working in the gardens owned by the Assam Tea Corporation are facing many problems in different fronts including very poor sanitation facility provided to them by the garden authorities. The poor sanitation facilities have resulted in the rise in different diseases afflicting the garden labourers and their children,” Das said.
According to Das, ATC owns 15 small and big tea gardens in the State and around 18,000 labourers are employed in these tea gardens. “Around 1.5 lakh family members of 18,000 tea labourers are also residing in these tea gardens,” he added.
He stated that different organizations of the tea labourers urged the State government as well as ATC to take steps to mitigate the woes of the tea labourers working in the ATC owned gardens but no steps have been taken so far in this regard. “The residences provided to the tea labourers by the garden authorities are in very poor conditions devoid of proper sanitation, pure drinking water facility, lack of electricity among others. Maximum cases of malaria and diarrhoea are seen in the tea garden areas of the State and this is mainly due to poor sanitation facilities,” he said, adding, “Assam Tea Corporation should take the first initiative to mitigate the woes of the tea labourers but has not taken any initiative so far.”
Das demanded that the bonus of the tea labourers should be increased to 20 per cent.
The BJMM also denounced the statement of the Union Minister, Jairam Ramesh, who, in his recent visit to Assam, said tea garden based youths in Assam were joining Maoist groups active in the State. “When the Congress party needs votes, they use the tea garden people. He (Jairam Ramesh) should not make such wild allegation against the tea garden based youths in Assam without any evidence,” he added.