By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 4: Assam Labour and Employment Minister Pallav Lochan Das today claimed that bank accounts under Prime Minister’s Jan-Dhan Asoni have been opened in 70 per cent of the tea gardens in the State. He said that around 20 per cent tea gardens of the State already had bank accounts.
Talking to newsmen in the city today, Das said that following a directive from Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal to the banks operating in the State to open ATMs, CSPs (customer service providers) and BCs (banking correspondents), the process of opening bank accounts in tea estates has been hastened. “After the demonetization, it has been cleared that all payments, including payment of wage to tea estate labouers, have to be made online. However, the move is facing opposition from a section of people. They say that the illiterate TE workers will find it difficult. With such pretexts tea estate workers have been kept illiterate over the years. Though cashless payment, we can also make payment of scholarships and other finial aid to tea estate students through the Tea Garden Welfare Board. After the CM’s directive we laid stress on opening of more ATMs in TEs. SBI is seeking permission from its higher authorities to open 1,000 more ATMs in tea garden areas in the State. If TE magers want more ATMs and banking facilities they can contact the banks. Right now we’ve laid stress on opening CSPs and BCs in tea estate areas. This will let educated tea garden youths to get rehabilitated.”
When asked as to how many tea estates are there in the State, Das said: “There are 900 big tea gardens, including companies, and 1,200 small tea gardens in the State. They have provided employment to around ten lakh permanent worker and as many temporary ones. Tomorrow all deputy commissioners will let the government know the progress in opening bank accounts and other banking facilities for tea estate workers. If some gardens face problems, we’ll take special measures for them through the deputy commissioners. Soon we’re going to review the progress.”