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125th annual general meeting of ABITA held

By Staff Correspondent
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DIBRUGARH, Feb 15 � In the 125th annual general meeting of the Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association (ABITA) at Dibrugarh District�s Planter�s Club, Bokel near here, Carrie Auer, the Chief of Field Services, UNICEF on Saturday emphasised that the welfare engagements with the tea communities ought to move beyond the limited mandate of the Plantation Labour Act of 1951.

�The Act, although provides for welfare of the workers and regulates the work conditions, needs amendment,� the Chief of Field Services, UNICEF said. Carrie Auer attended the quasquicentennial event of ABITA as its chief guest. She said the wellbeing of women and children in plantations must be duly addressed in more rights-based mechanism which the country as a whole has already adopted.

Carrie Auer lamented that although the tea community population represented approximately 17% of the State�s population and produced more then 51% of India�s tea, the community�s assimilation with the mainstream Assamese society was somewhat limited by geographical isolation. She said that the tea communities are among the most marginalised and socially excluded group in Assam.

�The development indicators are poor and exasperated by child marriages and child labour. Upper Assam which has the maximum number of tea gardens in the State also has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the state. Education especially for adolescent girls in the community still poses challenges due to constraints relating to access, language and more importantly due to marriage and employment during adolescents. Child protection issues including sex trafficking, exploitation and bonded labour, physical and sexual abuse within the domestic households and in the community are matters of concern,� Carrie pointed out.

Lauding the partnership of ABITA and UNICEF, she said that in keeping up with the social responsibilities of the tea industry, ABITA as a tea management association had emerged as a driving force behind schemes and projects to improve the living conditions of the plantation workers and their families. She said that UNICEF has managed to bring some positive changes among the plantation workers in ABITA member gardens like minimising maternal mortality ratio, child marriage, child trafficking, water santitaion issues and anemia among others. While congratulating ABITA for its 125 years of establishment and service, Carrie Auer asked the tea managements body to ensure that all achievements and gains are consolidated and taken from all scales.

ABITA chairman Ashok Krishan in his protracted speech acknowledged that with the support of the UNICEF, the quality of life of workers and their families had made remarkable progress, both in terms of qualitative and in quantitative changes. On the programmes of the National Health Mission, the ABITA chairman urged the State Government to expand its health interventions by including more tea estates.

He further said that the years ahead would not be easy for the tea industry. �We should be prepared to meet the challenges of the environment and the challenges posed by the climate change in relation to production and above all, the ever changing society and their aspirations,� he said.

The meeting was also addressed by AK Bhargava, Chairman, Indian Tea Association. Some of the others in attendance included Sajit Patra, Additional Secretary, ITA; Azam Monem, Vice Chairman, ITA; and Paban Singh Ghatowar, former Union Minister and Chief Advisor of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS).

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125th annual general meeting of ABITA held

DIBRUGARH, Feb 15 � In the 125th annual general meeting of the Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association (ABITA) at Dibrugarh District�s Planter�s Club, Bokel near here, Carrie Auer, the Chief of Field Services, UNICEF on Saturday emphasised that the welfare engagements with the tea communities ought to move beyond the limited mandate of the Plantation Labour Act of 1951.

�The Act, although provides for welfare of the workers and regulates the work conditions, needs amendment,� the Chief of Field Services, UNICEF said. Carrie Auer attended the quasquicentennial event of ABITA as its chief guest. She said the wellbeing of women and children in plantations must be duly addressed in more rights-based mechanism which the country as a whole has already adopted.

Carrie Auer lamented that although the tea community population represented approximately 17% of the State�s population and produced more then 51% of India�s tea, the community�s assimilation with the mainstream Assamese society was somewhat limited by geographical isolation. She said that the tea communities are among the most marginalised and socially excluded group in Assam.

�The development indicators are poor and exasperated by child marriages and child labour. Upper Assam which has the maximum number of tea gardens in the State also has the highest maternal mortality ratio in the state. Education especially for adolescent girls in the community still poses challenges due to constraints relating to access, language and more importantly due to marriage and employment during adolescents. Child protection issues including sex trafficking, exploitation and bonded labour, physical and sexual abuse within the domestic households and in the community are matters of concern,� Carrie pointed out.

Lauding the partnership of ABITA and UNICEF, she said that in keeping up with the social responsibilities of the tea industry, ABITA as a tea management association had emerged as a driving force behind schemes and projects to improve the living conditions of the plantation workers and their families. She said that UNICEF has managed to bring some positive changes among the plantation workers in ABITA member gardens like minimising maternal mortality ratio, child marriage, child trafficking, water santitaion issues and anemia among others. While congratulating ABITA for its 125 years of establishment and service, Carrie Auer asked the tea managements body to ensure that all achievements and gains are consolidated and taken from all scales.

ABITA chairman Ashok Krishan in his protracted speech acknowledged that with the support of the UNICEF, the quality of life of workers and their families had made remarkable progress, both in terms of qualitative and in quantitative changes. On the programmes of the National Health Mission, the ABITA chairman urged the State Government to expand its health interventions by including more tea estates.

He further said that the years ahead would not be easy for the tea industry. �We should be prepared to meet the challenges of the environment and the challenges posed by the climate change in relation to production and above all, the ever changing society and their aspirations,� he said.

The meeting was also addressed by AK Bhargava, Chairman, Indian Tea Association. Some of the others in attendance included Sajit Patra, Additional Secretary, ITA; Azam Monem, Vice Chairman, ITA; and Paban Singh Ghatowar, former Union Minister and Chief Advisor of Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS).