From our Staff Correspondent
DIBRUGARH, April 20: The Congress-led successive government was responsible for failing to include tea communities of the State under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution since Independence.
Disclosing this at a press meet held on Monday at Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS)’s office, the newly-elected president of the Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Pavan Singh Ghatowar categorically held the Congress leaders who were in the helm of affairs in 1950 responsible for not initiating any steps to include the tea communities of the State in the Sixth Schedule.
“For very mysterious reasons the leadership had distanced themselves from any initiation to provide scheduled tribes status to the tea communities of the State while persuasion of leaders of other States brought the status of Sixth Schedule for tea communities of their States,” Ghatowar added.
Former advisor of the ACMS and Union Minister, Pavan Singh Ghatowar, who lost the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat to former BJP MLA of Duliajan, Rameswar Teli in the last Loks Sabha election, got a moral boost following selection to the president post of ACMS at the 17th convention of the organization, held here on April 18 and April 19. The other members of the newly constituted 31 member-executive committee are Sumer Singh Gaur, rayan Mahar, Boga g, Golap Das Panika, Sushila Gowala as vice- presidents, with charges for Kamrup, Golaghat, Dibrugarh, Borsola and Sori ACMS respectively. Dileswar Tanti and Tinsukia MLA Rajendra Prasad Singh were selected as the general secretary and treasurer respectively.
Announcing ACMS’ proposed two-hour protest on April 23 demanding fulfillment of their 7-point charter of demands, Ghatowar said the convention discussed various problems of tea labourers in thread bare and resolved that the government should pay full wages and rations for the labourers of State Government-owned Assam Tea Corporation’s (ATC) tea estates along with arrears and amount against wage and rations respectively within June 30 and to clear arrears payment of provident fund and gratuity, amounting to more than Rs 100 crore within July 31 this year. The ACMS also demanded full implementation of Plantation Labour Act in the ATC gardens.
Expressing serious concern over the non- payment of minimum wages of Rs 140, as fixed by the government in 2013 for tea labourers engaged in thousands of small tea estates scattered in the State, the organization demanded its implementation soon. While welcoming the Assam Government’s announcement of daily wage for both tea and other sector labourers in the State at Rs 169, the ACMS urged upon the government to initiate steps for its implementation in all the tea estates of the State.
The other demands which got prominence in adopted resolutions of ACMS were to provincialize all the primary schools of the tea estates and to appoint educated wards of tea labourers as teachers, to complete electric connection, as per the agreement signed in 1996, in each of the tea labourer’s quarters with individual separate meter box , to enroll the youths and unemployed tea labourers in public sectors companies like OIL, ONGC as well as other government and private companies which were set up by requisitioning a sizable land of the tea estates in lieu of handsome fincial packages to owner of the tea estate, ignoring the interest of employed labourers, and to initiate process for issuing pattas for land under possession of tea labourers from several years.
The urgent executive meeting of the Sangha on April 8 at its central office under the president ship of Bhimanda Tanti, flayed those vested and anti-labour organizations which were indulging in slandering the image of Sangha as well as inciting the peace-loving tea labourers by giving a wrong interpretation of the bilateral wage agreement that was signed at the meeting held between ACMS and Planters Association on February 26.
Condemning such act, ACMS president Ghatowar stated that the united efforts of tea labourers would thwart the evil design of such vested forces and make Sangha more stronger in the coming days.