From a Correspondent
DIMAKUCHI, March 7: Healthcare facilities are not adequately available in most of the tea estate (TE) hospitals in Udalguri district. Almost a similar scerio is prevailing in most of the TE hospitals of the State. Moreover, there is a serious lack of awareness among the TE workers on issues concerning health and hygiene.
The Assam Mahila Samata Society (AMSS) is an autonomous society registered under the 1860 Societies Registration Act. AMSS has been implementing the tiol Mahila Samkhya programme and the 1992 Programme of Action. These programmes are envisaged by the tiol Policy on Education, 1986 and by the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) respectively.
AMSS official Ranjit Tanti said that TE workers were not provided with proper sanitation facilities and hygienic atmosphere. There is a prevalence of child marriage among the TE communities and this may be attributed to lack of education. Their living conditions also result in several compulsions, which rob them of the capacity to think about anything beyond marriage. Materl and infant mortality rates among the TE communities are also high. This may be attributed to early marriage, excessive physical labour, use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers and a slipshod attitude among their men folk.
Referring to a survey-based report prepared which assessed the healthcare scerio in 26 TEs of various sizes of Udalguri district, the TE women are deprived of proper maternity care. The situation has come to such a stage that the TE community women have accepted the prevailing condition of their life as a fait accompli. What is more worrisome is that they are not conscious about the expected delivery dates of their babies. They do not go for institutiol deliveries and are not granted maternity leave. Cases are there when the TE women deliver their babies while on plucking duty, said the AMSS official.
Significantly, the TE community women are entirely working women and they are made to shoulder the responsibility of running their families. However, they are very often subjected to violence, ill-treatment, discrimition and sexual harassment by lucrative offers from garden mangers and are often exposed to slang words used by the magerial staff.
The trade unions dealing with the TE labourers’ issues are not seen raising any demand concerning the TE women. The government also has been playing a kind of drama on the TE workers, using them as a vote bank.
The TE workers’ life is such that they cannot opt for extending fincial or physical support to any of the on-duty pregnt women. The worst sufferers are the woman casual labourers. There are also cases of discrimition against the women labourers, both regular and casual, in matters of wages.
The growth in the number of small tea gardens has also kept alive the bane of school dropouts among these people all over the State. This is also encouraging the child labour system in the tea industry.