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Tea garden workers to get free sugar from January

By Rituraj Borthakur

GUWAHATI, Nov 15 - After free rice, tea garden workers in the state will now get free sugar from January.

Official sources said each tea garden worker�s family will be given 2 kg of sugar per month. The scheme would cost the state exchequer Rs 6 crore per month.

For the supply of sugar, bids were called but the first tender did not get any response. Three parties submitted their bids when a revised tender was floated. Out of that, one party has been found eligible. �We hope to complete the formalities in a month�s time, after which distribution will begin. We should be able to launch the scheme in January,� the sources said.

Meanwhile, Food & Civil Supplies Director Deba Prasad Mishra has asked the Deputy Commissioners to update the list of tea garden beneficiaries (card holders) on a war footing.

As of now, 6.4 lakh card holder families in the tea garden areas are getting free rice since March this year. The families having PHH (priority households) ration cards are getting 5 kg of rice per person per month, while those under Antyodaya are getting 35 kg per family per month.

Under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), while the beneficiaries have to pay Rs 3 per kg, the BJP-led state government had made it free for tea garden workers since March this year. The rice supply under the NFSA costs the state exchequer Rs 29 crore per month.

�While we feel most of the tea garden workers have been included in the scheme, there could be a section, mostly those living outside the gardens, who are not yet getting the benefits. We have asked the DCs to update the list and submit a compliance report at the earliest. Some districts like Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, etc., have stated that there are no left-outs in their districts,� an official said.

The estimated population of tea workers eligible for the scheme benefits is 26 lakh.

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