Hailakandi, November 20: Unlike some parts of the State where payment of wages to tea garden workers has become a bone of contention following demonetization drive, in southern Assam’s Hailakandi district it has been a smooth affair without any hiccups, thanks to the slew of initiatives taken by the district administration.
According to District Labour Officer, Alimuddin Barbhuiya, payment of wages amounting to Rs 1,19,70,000 had been disbursed to the plantation workers of 15 out of 17 tea estates on Saturday and the remaining will follow suit, stated a press release. Tea gardens in Hailakandi district pay wages on weekly basis generally on Saturdays, and in cash.
Barbhuiya said there had been no unrest or uncertainty in the tea gardens over payment of wages in the wake of demonetization owing to prompt action taken by Deputy Commissioner Moloy Bora. The Labour Officer disclosed that wage payment amounting to Rs 2,38,60,000 has been already disbursed to the plantation workers following demonetization of higher currencies on November 8.
Barbhuiya also thanked the Chief Mager, SBI for his support and cooperation in ensuring payment of weekly wages to workers of tea estates despite severe constraints faced by the branch vis-à-vis shortage of lower denomition notes and manpower.
The SBI made special arrangement for smaller denomition notes following instructions from the district administration. Deputy Commissioner Bora persolly visited the bank on several occasions to ensure hassle-free disbursement of wage payment to garden workers.
As the tea garden magement sought Deputy Commissioner’s help for payment of wages following demonetization drive knowing that it may snowball into a major law-and-order problem, Deputy Commissioner Bora issued an order HCB 13/2016 dated November 12, directing the District Labour Officer and Project Director, DRDA to withdraw the requisite amount and make payment to garden owners. The Reserve Bank of India made certain relaxations in which the tea garden magement can hand over the cheques to the DCs for payment of cash to them.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Bora has asked the tea garden magement to take immediate steps to open bank accounts for plantation workers so that the wages can be transferred directly into their accounts. “The move to transfer wages into the bank accounts of tea labourers is a step in the right direction,” said Barbhuiya.