GUWAHATI, Oct 1: Launching the Wage Compensation Scheme (WCS) for pregnant women in tea garden areas of the state, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday termed the initiative as historic which he believed would be able to considerably bring down the mortality rate among the pregnant women of the tea community of the state. The launching programme was held at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra in the city.
Saying that Assam’s identity is synonymous with its tea gardens but the large working labourer population in the tea gardens have not been given access to quality healthcare, Sonowal stated that that the high Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) among pregnant women in tea garden areas due to anaemia and other diseases have been a major cause of worry and as the pregnant women labourers in the tea gardens have to work through their pregnancy till the time of delivery the mortality rate is on the higher side.
To address this concern, this Wage Compensation Scheme for Pregnant Women has been launched to provide a total of Rs 12,000 to each pregnant woman in tea garden areas so that she can take better care of herself and her unborn baby without compromising the livelihood of her family, he said.
An amount of more than Rs. 55 crore is allotted in the State Health Budget for the financial year 2018-19 for this scheme which will benefit nearly 48,000 pregnant women of tea garden areas every year. All temporary, permanent or non-workers living within the tea garden areas will be eligible for the scheme.
As per the scheme, first installment of Rs. 2,000 will be provided during Ante Natal Check-up (ANC) registration within the first trimester, second installment of Rs. 4,000 during sixth month of the pregnancy, third installment of Rs. 3,000 during delivery at government approved health institution and fourth installment of Rs. 3,000 during sixth week post-delivery will be provided to the pregnant women.
Saying that Assam cannot be developed without the development of the tea community which has made tremendous contribution towards formation of greater Assamese society, Sonowal said that only healthy mother can give birth to healthy child and urged the tea garden women to use this amount of Rs 12,000 judiciously for having nutritious food for themselves and their babies.
Urging the line sardars of tea gardens to spread the message about the various government schemes among the tea community, Sonowal said that the government is going to provide mobile phones to line sardars for effectively giving feedback to the government agencies about various problems in their gardens.
He also said that education sector in the tea garden areas is also being reformed for all-round development of the tea community and he urged the young generation of the community to stay away from bad habits like drugs so that they can achieve their full potential. Sports talents within the tea garden areas are being harnessed by the government with various initiatives, he said.
Speaking on the occasion Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) of the State was 480 in the year 2004-06 and that figure has come down to 237. But in tea garden areas MMR is still 404 and tea gardens in the districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar account for the highest number maternal deaths in the state. This Wage Compensation Scheme is an effort by the government so that the pregnanat women labourers do not need to work till the last time of their pregnancy and 80 Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) also providing better medical services in the tea gardens of the state, Sarma said.