GUWAHATI, July 20: “During the BJP regime, as many as 14 tea estates run by the State government have faced devastation. The workers of these estates have been deprived of wages, drinking water, bonus and healthcare. However, the BJP committed to strengthen these tea estates within six months after resuming office,” said the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) vice president Bhagirath Karan.
Karan said this while talking to the reporters in Guwahati on Friday. He told reporters that including the ministers of Industry, Finance and Labour Welfare, the State Government formed a committee to scrutinize the matter. However, till date, the committee has convened only one meeting and is yet to initiate any measures in this regard. He alleged that rampant corruption, misadministration and incompetence officers in the board have been deserting the Tea Board.
Taking a dig at anomalies, he said that the board has not been disclosing the annual budget, audit and the expenditure of funds received from various sources. Notably, there are approximately 20,000 forces, including the managers are working in these tea estates.
The vice president further said that over the last five years, there is no increase of tea prices. Adding fuel to the fire, the government subsidy on the tea workers’ ration card has been ceased. The Tea Board of India should scrutinize production, sale, export and quality of tea. However, the Board has been inactive for years. Notably, out of the total tea production of 1,320 million kg, 51% has been produced from Assam alone. Karan further informed reporters that a pact was signed on December 31, 2017 to increase the wage of the tea workers. However, over the six months, the State government has not initiated measures to meet the commitments. Moreover, the recent proposal to increase Rs 30 in their wages has been highly contested. At present while a tea worker gets Rs 137 in the Brahmaputra valley, a worker at Barak valley gets Rs 115.