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Pix-Tea Garden-4-----Caption : Women tea labourers are plucking tea-leaves from a teagarden of Eastern Indian State Assam. Pix-Shib Shankar Chatterjee.
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Tea garden workers to enjoy more schemes

* 100 high schools * Smart phones for Line Sardars

STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, June 30: The Government of Assam would soon set up 100 high schools in the tea garden areas of the State. Similarly, Line Sardars of the tea gardens would be provided with smart mobile phones. The Government would also extend financial assistance of Rs 12,000 each to around 47,000 pregnant tea garden workers each year for the nutritional purpose during the period of their pregnancy.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal while reviewing the implementation of programmes for the welfare of tea tribes at his office conference room at Janata Bhawan on Friday evening directed the departments concerned to expedite execution of the initiatives. The Chief Minister also asked the Education department to expeditiously transfer Rs 600 each to girl students aged 12 to 20 years for procurement of sanitary napkins as announced in the State budget. He also proposed to set up a new department to look after the plantation and commercial use of tea, rubber, bamboo etc. in the State.

Stating that lack of proper educational infrastructure at the tea gardens affects academic interests of the tea tribes’ students, the Chief Minister asked the Secondary Education department to take up speedy measures for setting up 100 high schools in the tea gardens across the State. He also directed the department to develop the new schools as model institution and engage modern construction technology for early completion of construction work.

Further, reviewing the progress of the mobile phone distribution programme for the Line Sardars of the tea gardens, the Chief Minister directed the Tea Tribes’ Welfare department to provide them smart phones so that the phone could be utilized as a multi-purpose device. Sonowal said that the smart phone would enable the Line Sardars to establish contact with concerned authorities to address any emergency situation and also emphasized on apprising the Line Sardars about different welfare schemes of the Government as well. He asked the department to introduce an app with information in Assamese language in the phone for the same.

Taking part in the review, Principal Secretary of Health Department Samir Sinha apprised the Chief Minister about the health related issues of the tea gardens and interventions made by the Government to tackle the same. Keeping in view the high rate of maternal and infant mortality, the Chief Minister asked the department to disburse the financial assistance to pregnant tea garden workers amounting to Rs 2,000 each at the earliest. It was also decided in the meeting to provide the financial assistance in phase manner up to two deliveries through direct benefit transfer to the beneficiaries. Besides, payment of an incentive of Rs 200 per pregnant women to the ASHA workers was also resolved in the meeting. Around 47,000 pregnant tea garden workers per year would be benefited through this initiative.
The Chief Minister also emphasized on generating awareness among the tea garden workers about health and other Government programmes so that they could enjoy their benefits. He directed the department to take up aggressive awareness programme engaging the SHGs and also screening films on Government schemes at the gardens. The Chief Minister also stressed on wider publicity of the Mobile Medical Units (MMUs) which are being operationalized in the tea gardens. It is to be mentioned that presently 80 MMUs are put into service to cover 320 tea gardens in the State. The Health department has also inked MoUs with another 150 tea gardens for strengthening their health infrastructure. Sonowal also asked the Health department to examine the feasibility of providing free medicines in the remaining tea gardens as well.

Sonowal during the meeting also reviewed the status of DBT of Rs 600 for procurement of sanitary napkins by the girl students and asked the Secondary Education department to ensure its swift execution. Once operationalized, this initiative would benefit around five lakh girl students between the ages of 12 to 20 per year in the State.
Moreover reviewing the challenges faced by tea industry of the State, the Chief Minister directed to take steps for setting up a new department to look after plantation and commercial issues of tea, rubber and other such products. Advocating newer research and innovation to tide over the current challenges, Sonowal evinced hope that the new department would be successful in projecting tea and other such products of the state in better light in the global market.

Minister of State (in-charge) for Tea Tribes Welfare Pallab Lochan Das, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Sanjay Lohiya, Principal Secretary of Tea Tribes Welfare Department Ajay Tiwari, Principal Secretary of Health Department Samir Sinha, Secretary of Secondary Education Samsher Singh and other senior Government officials were present in the review meeting.

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