By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, April 30: About 60 percent of children in tea gardens of Assam are underweight and over 90 percent of the girls are reported aemic.
These shocking figures were thrown up at a media consultation programme on ‘Protecting the rights of children of tea plantation workers in Assam: A call for joint action’ organized by Save the Children, an intertiol non-governmental organization.
According to Chittapriyo Sadhu, general mager (state programmes) of Save the Children, only 14 percent of the girls and 12 percent of the boys have been covered under the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS).
Moreover, only 30 percent of the children attend school regularly, he said.
“The people of the tea community have been living and working in the gardens for generations. Due to their exclusion from the outer world, sole dependence upon garden magements and poor implementation of government schemes inside the gardens, they remain under-developed and margilized. Though there are a number of legislations for their upliftment, the situation has not changed much. The plantation workers are disadvantaged in terms of accessing their legal rights or in their ability to effectively realize them,” a note by the NGO said.
According to Sadhu, the implementation of the Plantation Labour Act has been abysmally low at 6 percent.
The children have been the worst sufferers. Due to limited access to health services and facilities, there are high trends of materl mortality rate and infant mortality rate.
Save the Children has joined hands with two organizations in Sonitpur district for piloting a project on ‘Protecting the children of tea tribes in Assam from rights violations’ with the commitment to reach more than 10,000 children from 10 tea gardens across four blocks in the district.
The programme includes training of Anganwadi workers, skill development of drop-out youths, renovating Anganwadi centres and capacity building of school magements.