DIBRUGARH, March 9 - Perturbed by the recent hooch tragedy in Golaghat and Jorhat districts, where over 150 people, largely tea garden workers died after consuming illicit liquor, the major tea planters� body ABITA (Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association) has launched a community level awareness against hooch in its affiliated plantations.
The planters� body on Friday organised awareness campaigns in Phillobari, Rupai, Digulturrung, Nalani, Mahakali, Basmatia, Hazelbank, Lepetkatta and Khowang tea estates. In the first phase organised on Thursday, ABITA covered Samdang, Thowra, Ananda-Bag and Namsang tea estates. The intensive campaign is being initiated by the Zone 1 ABITA office in collaboration with the district administrations (Dibrugarh and Tinsukia), Excise department and with the support from UNICEF.
Through the campaign, ABITA is seeking to check the sale and consumption of illicit liquor in tea gardens. During the campaign, various activities were organised like streetplays, rallies and community level meetings to make the people aware about the ill effects of illicit liquor. In all the events the Adolescent Girls� Club members of the respective estates took active part.
The rallies were taken out in the housing areas of the workers to directly communicate to the workers about the need to check liquor sale and consumption in tea gardens as it caused domestic violence, violation of rights of the children and destroyed the social fabric of the society. After the rallies, the Adolescent Girls� Club members performed streetplays on alcoholism, child marriage, education and health issues. This was followed by a community-level awareness programme which focused on formulation of action plan to stop sale and consumption of illicit liquor in the garden vicinity. The programmes were well attended by mothers� group members, line chowkidars, adolescent girls� and boys� group members and tea garden workers.
In all the programmes held in different tea estates, personnel from the Excise Department including Superintendents and Deputy Superintendents of the respective districts took part in the campaign. They also made the people aware about various provisions of the law pertaining to punishment for illegal sale and manufacture of liquor. While the ABITA programme personnel facilitated the awareness campaign in each tea estate, the management of respective tea estates including senior managers, welfare officers, and doctors provided necessary support in organising the programme, said Madhurjya Barooah, Secretary, ABITA, Zone 1.