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Budgetary provision for small tea growers urged

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Oct 15 � The All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association (AASTGA), in its presentation before the Union Minister of State (Independent) for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, demanded all sorts of support from the Commerce Ministry in the small tea growers� bid to set up mini and micro tea processing factories and marketing the tea produced in such factories.

Moreover, it called for a budgetary provision for small tea growers in the next Union Budget, two more auction centres at Dibrugarh and Jorhat, appointment of a full-fledged Director at the Small Tea Growers� Directorate at Dibrugarh, appointment of a full-fledged Executive Director of the Tea Board�s NE regional office at Jorhat, supply of manure to small tea growers at subsidised rates, provision to support small tea growers of Assam to overcome drought and other natural calamities and inclusion of two members from the AASTGA in the Tea Board, said AASTGA general secretary Karuna Mahanta.

The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), in its memorandum to the Union Minister, pleaded for the inclusion of two representatives from among tea workers in the Tea Board as was done some years back. For the purpose, the ACMS should be taken into consideration as it is the biggest organisation of tea garden workers in the country, said ACMS general secretary Dileswar Tanti while briefing this newspaper on the memorandum.

The memorandum also called for steps to relax the minimum required marks to avail of Tea Board scholarships by the children of poor tea garden workers while pursuing their post-HSLC education. At present, only those students who secure the first division are eligible for this scholarship, Tanti said.

The memorandum further demanded two more tea auction centres in the State � one at Dibrugarh and the other at Jorhat �and the strict implementation of the Plantation Labour Act.

The Assam Majuri Shramik Union, affiliated to the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), demanded the implementation of the minimum wages announced by the Assam Government for tea garden workers in the minimum wage schedule. Besides, it demanded that the next round of wage negotiations should be tripartite and not a bipartite one � that is between the Consultative Committee of Planters� Associations (CCPA) and the ACMS. It should also include the representatives of the Assam Government and all the tea garden workers� unions.

It also demanded the implementation of the Plantation Labour Act, Assam Scheme, by enabling it to take punitive action against the violators of its provisions. The Union also demanded measures to expedite the payment of the huge arrears of over Rs 200 crore to workers of the 15 tea estates run by the Assam Government.

The National Federation of Small Tea Growers India pleaded for the implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by the Additional Secretary (Plantation), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, to assess the situation of the tea industry on various aspects. The committee recommended the sharing of statutory obligations towards tea garden workers and their dependants.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries was requested to consider the recommendations in a positive manner so that workers and their dependants can get basic healthcare facilities, clean and hygienic shelter, education, etc., which other industrial and rural workers are enjoying. The Federation has also called for an enquiry into the alleged misappropriation of public money in running the Tea Board�s NE regional office at Jorhat and the Directorate for Small Tea Growers at Dibrugarh from rented houses.

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Budgetary provision for small tea growers urged

GUWAHATI, Oct 15 � The All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association (AASTGA), in its presentation before the Union Minister of State (Independent) for Commerce and Industry, Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, demanded all sorts of support from the Commerce Ministry in the small tea growers� bid to set up mini and micro tea processing factories and marketing the tea produced in such factories.

Moreover, it called for a budgetary provision for small tea growers in the next Union Budget, two more auction centres at Dibrugarh and Jorhat, appointment of a full-fledged Director at the Small Tea Growers� Directorate at Dibrugarh, appointment of a full-fledged Executive Director of the Tea Board�s NE regional office at Jorhat, supply of manure to small tea growers at subsidised rates, provision to support small tea growers of Assam to overcome drought and other natural calamities and inclusion of two members from the AASTGA in the Tea Board, said AASTGA general secretary Karuna Mahanta.

The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), in its memorandum to the Union Minister, pleaded for the inclusion of two representatives from among tea workers in the Tea Board as was done some years back. For the purpose, the ACMS should be taken into consideration as it is the biggest organisation of tea garden workers in the country, said ACMS general secretary Dileswar Tanti while briefing this newspaper on the memorandum.

The memorandum also called for steps to relax the minimum required marks to avail of Tea Board scholarships by the children of poor tea garden workers while pursuing their post-HSLC education. At present, only those students who secure the first division are eligible for this scholarship, Tanti said.

The memorandum further demanded two more tea auction centres in the State � one at Dibrugarh and the other at Jorhat �and the strict implementation of the Plantation Labour Act.

The Assam Majuri Shramik Union, affiliated to the New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), demanded the implementation of the minimum wages announced by the Assam Government for tea garden workers in the minimum wage schedule. Besides, it demanded that the next round of wage negotiations should be tripartite and not a bipartite one � that is between the Consultative Committee of Planters� Associations (CCPA) and the ACMS. It should also include the representatives of the Assam Government and all the tea garden workers� unions.

It also demanded the implementation of the Plantation Labour Act, Assam Scheme, by enabling it to take punitive action against the violators of its provisions. The Union also demanded measures to expedite the payment of the huge arrears of over Rs 200 crore to workers of the 15 tea estates run by the Assam Government.

The National Federation of Small Tea Growers India pleaded for the implementation of the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee headed by the Additional Secretary (Plantation), Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, to assess the situation of the tea industry on various aspects. The committee recommended the sharing of statutory obligations towards tea garden workers and their dependants.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industries was requested to consider the recommendations in a positive manner so that workers and their dependants can get basic healthcare facilities, clean and hygienic shelter, education, etc., which other industrial and rural workers are enjoying. The Federation has also called for an enquiry into the alleged misappropriation of public money in running the Tea Board�s NE regional office at Jorhat and the Directorate for Small Tea Growers at Dibrugarh from rented houses.