ATC owned 21 tea estates yet to deposit Rs 156.32 crore provident fund contributions
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, Aug 2: For exploited tea workers in Assam who matter to political parties only for their votes, here is yet another shameful betrayal going on for long years. And it concerns their provident fund money, their only nest egg after retirement.
Many of Assam’s tea gardens owned by private players have failed to deposit provident fund (PF) contribution for their workers for a long time. But the situation is same with the 21 tea gardens owned by Assam Tea Corporation (ATC), a State government organization, and ATC head office which have also defaulted on depositing PF contribution for their workers to the tune of Rs 156.32 crore.
Moreover, the 18 tea estates under the ATC have liability (arrear provident fund dues) of Rs 164.09 crore. Another three ATC owned tea estates Mantakata, Socklating and Letekoojan have defaulted on depositing PF contribution of Rs 48.64 lakh. So therefore, total liability would be Rs 164.57 crore.
According to records available, 21 tea estates and ATC head office deposited only Rs 8.25 crore and the remaining PF balance is of Rs 156.32 crore.
At a time when successive State governments have been talking big about providing various facilities to lakhs of workers toiling in tea estates across Assam, ATC-owned tea estates are in depressed state. Living conditions for workers are dismal, infrastructure crumbling. The combition of dismal living conditions and low wages has kept tea workers and their families malnourished and in poor health.
As per existing rules, the tea garden authorities have to deposit workers’ provident fund money within one month from the date of salary. But the garden authorities do not follow this rule, for which reason many workers have died without getting hold of their provident fund.
Will the present Sarbanda Sonowal-led BJP government at Dispur take some steps so that the pending PF of tea workers are deposited in timely and regular money?