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Govt may probe alleged anomalies

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GUWAHATI, Feb 3 - Minister for Labour and Employment, and Tea Tribe Welfare, Pallab Lochan Das today told the Assembly that the successive Congress Governments in the past had been hoodwinking the tea garden labourers and the people of the State by supplying subsidized rice and wheat meant for APL families and then using it as a pretext to reduce the labourers� wage.

The minister, while calling for a high-level inquiry into the alleged large-scale corruption indulged in by the previous Congress Governments and tea garden managements, also warned the tea garden managements of stern action unless they implemented the Plantations Labour Act and the Minimum Wages Act in letter and spirit.

Replying to a question by BJP legislator Teras Goala during Zero Hour in the Assembly today, Das said that tea garden managements and previous governments hid the fact that the rice was procured at source at subsidized rates from APL quota.

Moreover, Das added, the annual ration requirement of 12,000 MT per month was shown against a total number of 19 lakh tea labourer beneficiaries whereas the actual figure for beneficiaries as per government data was nine lakh. Again, almost half of the labourers were casual labourers who worked only for six months and hence did not require monthly ration � another fact hidden by the managements, he said.

�Shocking anomalies have been perpetrated by the tea garden managements in connivance with the previous Congress Government. We need a thorough inquiry to get to the roots of the disturbing developments. The labourers have been misled by the managements and the government,� Das said.

Asserting that the garden managements in connivance with the previous government had been blatantly violating the Plantations Labour Act, Das said that no management was paying even the minimum wage prescribed by the Minimum Wage Committee last year and even the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) sided with the garden managements.

On the controversy that the tea garden labourers would be deprived of their subsidized ration following the implementation of the Food Security Act, the minister ruled out such an eventuality and said that the labourers would continue to get the benefits.

�The tea gardens are bound to provide ration to the labourers. The government will take stern action on erring managements and if necessary, the owners will be arrested. Any agreement between the tea management and the labourers that does not honour the Minimum Wages Act will be declared null and void,� he said, adding that the government was also taking up with the Food and Civil Supplies Department the matter of providing subsidized ration to labourers at Rs 3 a kg.

Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, while urging the legislators not to play politics with the sensitive matter, said that a probe was needed into the alleged anomalies and that he would give a ruling later after receiving a feedback from the House.

Meanwhile, the Assam Congress Legislature Party, in a memorandum to the Chief Minister, accused Pallab Lochan Das of misleading the House and said that any interruption in the existing system of providing subsidized ration would trigger law-and-order situations.

It also urged the government to ensure all the facilities guaranteed to the labourers under the Plantations Labour Act.

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Govt may probe alleged anomalies

GUWAHATI, Feb 3 - Minister for Labour and Employment, and Tea Tribe Welfare, Pallab Lochan Das today told the Assembly that the successive Congress Governments in the past had been hoodwinking the tea garden labourers and the people of the State by supplying subsidized rice and wheat meant for APL families and then using it as a pretext to reduce the labourers� wage.

The minister, while calling for a high-level inquiry into the alleged large-scale corruption indulged in by the previous Congress Governments and tea garden managements, also warned the tea garden managements of stern action unless they implemented the Plantations Labour Act and the Minimum Wages Act in letter and spirit.

Replying to a question by BJP legislator Teras Goala during Zero Hour in the Assembly today, Das said that tea garden managements and previous governments hid the fact that the rice was procured at source at subsidized rates from APL quota.

Moreover, Das added, the annual ration requirement of 12,000 MT per month was shown against a total number of 19 lakh tea labourer beneficiaries whereas the actual figure for beneficiaries as per government data was nine lakh. Again, almost half of the labourers were casual labourers who worked only for six months and hence did not require monthly ration � another fact hidden by the managements, he said.

�Shocking anomalies have been perpetrated by the tea garden managements in connivance with the previous Congress Government. We need a thorough inquiry to get to the roots of the disturbing developments. The labourers have been misled by the managements and the government,� Das said.

Asserting that the garden managements in connivance with the previous government had been blatantly violating the Plantations Labour Act, Das said that no management was paying even the minimum wage prescribed by the Minimum Wage Committee last year and even the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) sided with the garden managements.

On the controversy that the tea garden labourers would be deprived of their subsidized ration following the implementation of the Food Security Act, the minister ruled out such an eventuality and said that the labourers would continue to get the benefits.

�The tea gardens are bound to provide ration to the labourers. The government will take stern action on erring managements and if necessary, the owners will be arrested. Any agreement between the tea management and the labourers that does not honour the Minimum Wages Act will be declared null and void,� he said, adding that the government was also taking up with the Food and Civil Supplies Department the matter of providing subsidized ration to labourers at Rs 3 a kg.

Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami, while urging the legislators not to play politics with the sensitive matter, said that a probe was needed into the alleged anomalies and that he would give a ruling later after receiving a feedback from the House.

Meanwhile, the Assam Congress Legislature Party, in a memorandum to the Chief Minister, accused Pallab Lochan Das of misleading the House and said that any interruption in the existing system of providing subsidized ration would trigger law-and-order situations.

It also urged the government to ensure all the facilities guaranteed to the labourers under the Plantations Labour Act.