Hailakandi, Nov 24: As a sequel to the Chief Minister’s meeting with bankers, Deputy Commissioner Hailakandi Moloy Bora directed the banking authorities to facilitate disbursal of weekly wages to tea garden workers through bank accounts commencing December 15 onwards, stated a press release.
At a high-level meeting with bankers of all leading banks, tea garden magement and tea associations at the conference hall on Thursday, Deputy Commissioner Bora said the banks would have to meet the deadline for opening up of accounts of ‘left out’ plantation workers on or before December 5 for timely disbursal of weekly remuneration from December 15 onwards.
Bora urged the banking authorities and tea garden magement to ensure that the tea workers get their weekly wages on time and they do not encounter any inconvenience or difficulties. “A proper mechanism has to be evolved so that the payment of weekly wages to tea workers is smooth and hassle free,” said Bora, adding that the administration would pitch in all its efforts towards this end.
The Deputy Commissioner urged the banks to expand their network by opening more Customer Service Providers (CSPs) and installation of ATMs in the tea garden areas to ensure smooth and effective transaction. The tea garden magement unimously agreed to provide space and other facilities, including electricity for installation of ATMs for the benefit of tea garden workers.
Lead District Mager, Hailakandi, J Bhattacharjee said plans were in the offing to set up ultra-small branches in tea gardens and adjoining areas. He instructed the banks to increase the number of CSPs to reach out to the tea garden workers. Bhattacharjee requested the garden magement to appoint a nodal officer to monitor the activities. Secretary, Surma Valley Branch, Indian Tea Association, BP Chaliha said that it would be a good move by the banks to raise the number of CSPs.
As internet connectivity poses problem in tea garden areas, Deputy Commissioner Bora said he would direct BSNL to provide uninterrupted internet connectivity to ensure smooth transactions. Some of the bankers said that they would install ATMs with VSAT connections.
Almost all the banks in the district have opened up to 60 to 90 per cent bank accounts of tea garden workers and the rest they assured would be completed in the next couple of days with the help and support of tea garden magement. For those who do not have any supporting documents to open a bank account, the bankers asked the garden magement to furnish certificate as proof to facilitate the process.
The Deputy Commissioner asked the tea garden magement to furnish the list of ‘left out’ plantation workers to the banks and to provide certificate wherever required for opening up of bank accounts. “If it is required provide a certificate as proof for opening up of bank accounts. Later we can verify them during the next round of NRC updation exercise,” he said.
Bora underscored the importance of starting the fincial literacy camps for creating awareness among the plantation workers with a message loud and clear that the exercise undertaken to open accounts was for their own good. The bankers agreed that they would start organizing such camps coinciding with opening up of bank accounts of ‘left out’ tea workers.
Lauding the Assam Gramin Vikash Bank for its visit to remote Riflemara to collect savings from villagers at his request, Deputy Commissioner Bora urged all the banks to follow suit to mop up hard-earned money of people living in remote areas of the district and deposit the same in their bank pass books.
Bora praised the pro-active role of the banks to help tide over the crisis in the wake of demonetization of higher currencies by ensuring weekly payment of wages to plantation workers of the district. There are altogether 17 tea estates in Hailakandi district.
Superintendent of Police, Prab Jyoti Goswami assured the banks and tea garden magement that security would be provided wherever necessary.
The meeting was attended, among others, by District Development Commissioner, AK Bhattacharyya, Additiol Deputy Commissioner, Ruth Lienthang, Additiol SP, Rajmohan Roy, District Labour Officer, Alimuddin Borbuiya, Chief Mager of SBI, Hailakandi branch, Jaideep Mukherjee, representatives of Axis Bank, UCO, UBI, Allahabad Bank, Cara Bank, Indian Tea Association and Barak Chah Sramik Union.