Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday announced that the state government would increase the minimum wages of tea garden workers in the state within 10 days.
Addressing a function organised to distribute financial assistance of Rs 3,000 each to 7,46,667 tea garden workers by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Sarma said that the proposal to raise the minimum wages of the tea garden workers would be finalised in the next Cabinet meeting.
Sarma said that the state government has spent Rs 1,400 crore for constructing roads in and around the tea gardens and opened many schools for the children of the workers.
He said that the BJP government headed by Chief Minister Sonowal gave Rs 12,000 each to 47,000 pregnant women in the tea estates. Assam has around 800 large tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small tea gardens.
The BJP-led Assam government ahead of the April-May Assembly election has been providing and announcing various sops and financial schemes to various communities and people of different sections of society, including students.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday distributed Rs 3,000 each to 7,46,667 tea garden workers in Assam under the ‘Chah Bagicha Dhan Puraskar Mela’ scheme, in the same function organised at the Assam Veterinary College playground.
Speaking on the occasion, Sonowal accused the opposition Congress of neglecting the development of tea growing areas in the state and tea garden workers.
In the third tranche of the scheme, a total amount of Rs 224 crore was disbursed with Rs 3,000 getting transferred directly to 7,46,667 bank accounts of tea garden workers across the state.
The scheme was started by the Assam government in 2017-18 and that year Rs 2,500 each was provided to 6,33,411 tea garden workers, while a similar amount was deposited in 7,15,979 bank accounts the next year. Sitharaman said that Assam is known world over for its tea and while people start their mornings with a cup of Assam brew, the labourers who grow them have been neglected for a long time.
She said that since the Narendra Modi-led government assumed office in 2014, various measures have been taken for the upliftment of the tea community, as the Prime Minister has been making sincere efforts to bring changes in the lives of people from sections of the society.
Crediting the bank officials and Assam government employees for completing the task of opening more than eight lakh bank accounts in the tea garden areas after the demonetisation drive initiated by Prime Minister Modi, Sitharaman said the inclusion of the tea plantation workers in the formal banking system has enabled direct transfer of benefits of government schemes to their bank accounts without any middlemen or leakage.
“An ambitious scheme like Ayushman Bharat has been launched to provide Rs 5 lakh to every family per year for enabling underprivileged sections like the tea community to avail paperless medical treatment,” she said.
Saying that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal works wholeheartedly for the equal development of all sections of people, the Finance Minister informed that the Central government has allocated Rs 1,000 crore in the Budget for the empowerment of the women workforce in the tea plantations of Assam and West Bengal, acting on the plea of Assam government and as a commitment of the Central government towards the tea community.
She also said that under the leadership of Modi, the Central government has been working relentlessly for the development of the weakest sections of the society and no discrimination is being done in the allocation of funds to any state.
In future also, measures for the upliftment of the tea community would be taken, Sitharaman added.
Addressing the gathering organised at the Assam Veterinary College playground, Sonowal informed that the government has provided free text books, free uniforms and free admission to the children of tea garden workers and urged them to motivate their children to strive for acquiring education to succeed in this age of competition.
Thanking the Central government for selecting the life of Assam’s tea community as the theme for the state’s tableau in the Republic Day parade in New Delhi this year, Sonowal said that increased allocation to Assam in this year’s Budget has sent a message of ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ to the whole country.
Speaking at the event, state Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the government has always stood by the tea garden workers in times of need.
He also informed about the state government’s plans to provide free breakfast at the tea garden schools, introduction of 10 per cent reservation in neighbouring colleges for the students of the community, apart from the already implemented 10 per cent reservation in medical and engineering colleges.
Union Minister of State for Food Processing Rameswar Teli, Minister of State (Independent) for Tea Tribes Welfare Sanjay Kishan, Rajya Sabha MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, and Lok Sabha MP Pallab Lochan Das, among others, were also present on the occasion.