Dibrugarh, July 10: The chief convener of the Joint Action Committee of Tea Tribes Adivasi Assam (JACOTTAA), Israil Nanda, has come out vociferously in disapproval of the recent decision of the government to provide the sardars of the tea estates of the State with smartphones. Stating that such a move would slash the tea production in all estates by half, he appealed that the State government should instead focus on other areas, including improving their place of residence and providing drinking water. Denouncing the tax of 25 paise charged by the State on every kilogram of tea leaves, Nanda attributed the dismal performance of the tea industry of Assam to this factor, inter-alia many others. He also asserted that although the small tea growers were promised of a reduction in the tax rate, the promise was yet to be delivered on, for the owners of such tea gardens were still paying taxes at the earlier rate. Likewise, even after the announcement of increasing the daily wage of labourers working for the small tea growers to Rs 244, the same was yet to be put to practice.
The chief convenor of JACOTTAA further took a dig at the State government, and held that even after a minister had spoken last year about setting up of 100 schools across different tea estates, the State had failed to make any progress in the direction. Nanda also held the BJP government responsible for the increase in the prices of the essential food items in the tea garden areas, and accused the government of discontinuing fair price rations.
He also slammed MK Shah Exports Private Limited and accused the company of treating the welfare aspect of the tea labourers working in their gardens with contemptuous disregard, and thus, declared that JACOTTAA would obstruct the company from purchasing more tea gardens in the State.