GUWAHATI: The tea garden managements in the Barak Valley are in for incurring Dispur’s wrath for their non-compliance with an order issued to all tea estates of the State.
Despite an order from Dispur, a section of tea gardens in the Barak Valley has not been paying their labourers the interim amount of Rs 30 along with their daily wages. The government is going to act tough against the erring gardens.
Informing the media of this, State Labour and Employment Minister Pallab Lochan Das said that the tea garden managements in the Brahmaputra Valley, on the other hand, have been paying the Rs 30 interim relief to their labourers along with their daily wages. The existing daily wages of tea garden labourers are Rs 115 in the Barak Valley and Rs 147 in the Brahmaputra Valley. With the addition of the interim amount of Rs 30, a tea garden labourer in the Brahmaputra Valley now gets Rs 177 per day. On the demand for hiking daily wage of tea labourers up to Rs 300, Das said that the committee formed for the purpose is hearing all stakeholders’ views to submit its report. “We’re going to take the final decision based on the report,” he said.
Das said that now the thrust is on social security and uplifting the living standard of tea garden labourers. “All departments in the State have been told clearly to spend 5 per cent of their total budgetary allocation for the development of tea tribes and their welfare. This is apart from many schemes which the government has taken for tea tribes. Old-age pension for tea garden labourers was never a reality in Assam. However, now the government has started the process for bringing old tea garden labourers under its old-age pension fold,” Das said, and added: “We’re going to form 1,000 self-help groups of tea garden women. While 7.50 lakh tea garden labourers have got their bank accounts opened with Rs 2,500 deposited in each of the accounts by Dsipur in phase I of the Jandhan Yojana, and the remaining 2.50 lakh such labourers are set to get such accounts opened with a deposition of Rs 5,000 by the government in each of the accounts in phase II of the scheme. The government is also going to deposit the remaining Rs 2,500 to each of the 7.50 accounts already opened in phase I.”
Das further said that other benefits which Dispur is going to dole out for tea tribes are – free-of-cost GNM nurse training for 200 tea tribe girls, Scooty for 100 Higher Secondary passed tea estate girls on the basis of merit, free-of-cost IAS/ACS coaching for tea tribe candidates. He said that Dispur has released Rs 800 crore recently for the development connectivity in tea garden areas. The government is also going to provide mobile phones to labour line sardars. The minister said that there has been a change for the better that nowadays tea garden labours come forward to avail benefits of various schemes on their own.
The Tea Tribe in the State did get a raw deal during the past Congress regime in the State. On the pretext of the Plantations Labour Act that fixes the responsibility of developing tea garden areas on the management, the successive Congress governments at Dispur did precious little for the development of tea labourers. It has been a blot on the Congress that the party used the tea community as its vote bank without doing anything tangible for their wellbeing, Das added.