GUWAHATI: Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has vowed to bring about a sea change in the living standards of all tea workers across Assam.
Launching the third phase of the 'Chah Bagicha Dhan Puraskar Mela' at the playground of College of Veterinary Science, Khanapara here on Saturday, Sitharaman said that the people from most parts of the globe wake up in the morning with the word 'Chah' (tea) and they remember the hard-working tea workers.
"Assam is known all over the world for its brand – tea; and while people start their mornings with a cup of Assam brew, the labourers who grow tea have been neglected for a long time making them live a disadvantaged life.
"Since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Central Government assumed power in 2014, various measures for the uplift of the tea community have been taken as Modiji has been sincerely making efforts for bringing about a sea change in the life of the people of all sections," said Sitharaman.
Ceremonially distributing Rs 3,000 to each of 7,46,667 tea workers directly through their bank accounts, Sitharaman said that the recent Union Budget for the year 2021-22 has earmarked Rs 1,000 crore for the empowerment of women working in the tea gardens across Assam and West Bengal.
Crediting the bank officials and Assam Government employees for completing the task of opening of more than 8 lakh bank accounts in the tea garden areas after the demonization drive initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sitharaman pointed out that due to the inclusion of the tea community in the formal banking system, it has enabled the direct transfer of the benefits from various government schemes to their bank accounts without any middlemen and leakage.
"An ambitious scheme like the 'Ayushman Bharat' has been launched to provide Rs 5 lakh to every family per year for enabling the underprivileged section like the tea community to avail of paperless medical treatment," said the Finance Minister.
She added that ATMs, mobile banking and other facilities provided by the banks in the tea gardens have taken banking there to the level of the metro cities in the country.
Addressing the huge gathering, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowaltermed the day as historic and recalled the feat of opening of more than 8 lakh bank accounts in the tea garden areas after the demonetization drive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the support of tea community people.
Stating that the State government has provided the children of the tea garden community free textbooks, uniforms and admission to schools, the Chief Minister urged the parents and guardians to motivate their children to strive for acquiring education so that they can succeed in this age of competition. He also remarked that tea tribe youths have achieved successes in all spheres; and congratulated those from the community who got selected in the APSC (Assam Public Service Commission) this year.
Speaking on the occasion, Finance, Health, Education & PWD Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that for the development of the tea-garden workers, the government has always stood beside them in their time of needs. Stating that the government is working tirelessly for the uplift of tea garden workers,he informed the gathering about the plans to provide free breakfasts at the schools in the tea gardens, introduce 10% reservation for the students of the community in the colleges near the tea gardens; apart from the already implemented 10% reservation in medical and engineering colleges.
Minister Sarma also promised that the State Government would soon announce increase in the wage structure of the tea- garden workers of the State, adding that more good news would follow.
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