GUWAHATI, June 20 - The Centre and the State were today unanimous in pressing the tea garden managements in Assam to provide land to develop health and education infrastructure for the tea garden population.
While Union Health and Family Welfare Minister JP Nadda asserted that the tea garden managements must provide adequate land and support to the cause, State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma went on to say that the government will take a strong stand if at least one acre of land is not provided or delisted by each tea garden management to build high schools and community halls.
Sarma informed that the State Government is planning to build 200 new high schools in the tea garden areas to arrest dropout. �The government is also contemplating setting up more hospitals under the Assam Tea Corporation,� Sarma stated.
Nadda, while inaugurating 80 new mobile medical units for tea gardens here today, further said that it was unfortunate that even after 70 years of Independence tea garden population is still deprived of basic healthcare facilities.
As per the plan, the Centrally-funded mobile medical units for tea gardens will be rolled out in a manner that a cluster of four or five gardens will be made and one mobile unit will be allotted for each cluster.
Further, each mobile unit will visit a garden and will remain stationed there for five days, and in the process 320 gardens will be covered in a month. The scheme has been rolled out after a survey into 720 tea gardens showed that nearly 320 of them lack the minimum healthcare facilities.
�The identity of Assam and the role of tea gardens are synonymous with each other. The policy makers must understand that the parameters of IMR and MMMR are not going to improve if we concentrate only on urban areas. I am quite confident that the new initiative will improve the health indicators,� the Union Minister opined, adding that special attention is being paid to the tea garden population.
The Union Minister also said that the number of mobile units will be increased and the time gap of visits by such units would also decrease in the times to come.�
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, terming the launch of mobile medical units as historic, said that the 80 mobile medical units would cater to the medical needs of 21 lakh tea garden population in a year.
�We do realise the healthcare deficit the gardens are facing. The government is committed to providing best possible healthcare facilities to the tea garden population and it is working towards it,� Sonowal said.
State Labour and Employment Minister Pallav Lochan Das, Member of Parliament Kamakhya Prasad Tasa and others were also present on the occasion.