Guwahati, Feb 1: The Indian Tea Association (ITA) has complimented Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for “presenting a visionary and progressive Budget 2021-22” which “scores high on social reforms and lays down the roadmap towards accelerating the growth of the economy”.

The Rs 1,000-crore special package for tea estate workers of Assam and West Bengal would improve sustainability and strengthen the alignment with the SDG goals. It is expected that tea estate population would be provided a more comprehensive coverage on welfare schemes related to housing, education, sanitation, medical facilities, etc., the ITA said in a statement.

The announcements for additional funding for social and physical infrastructure in terms of new aatmanirbhar health scheme as well as roads, etc., will have a salutary effect on productivity and health of the nation while the Pradhan Mantri Aatmanirbhar Swasthya Bharat Yojana, which will operate in addition to the existing National Health Mission with an allocation of Rs 64,180 crore, is expected to be used to develop capacities of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare systems as well as existing national institutions, it said, adding that it will go a long way towards improvement of health infrastructure in the country over the next few years.

The tea planters body said most tea gardens in Assam and West Bengal are located in remote places and suffer from several transportation bottlenecks and as such the allocation of Rs 3,400 crore for road infrastructure development in Assam and Rs 25,000 crore in West Bengal is expected to speed up development of roads and infrastructure thereby facilitating faster communication from tea gardens to destination points.

Welcoming the welfare schemes for the workers, the Tea Association of India (TAI) said announcement of allowing women to work in night shifts is an optimistic step along with the announcement of ushering in changes in ease of doing business such as ongoing registration licences and on returns.