SIVASAGAR, April 19 - The president of All Assam Adivasi Students� Union Stephen Lakra and secretary Deven Urang in a release expressed concern for exposing the tea garden workers to the COVID-19 pandemic as the latter were made to work without providing them protective gear like gloves, masks, hand sanitiser or maintaining minimum social distance at their respective work sites.
The students� body said it protested resumption of regular tea garden work immediately after the Central Home Secretary ordered opening of all tea gardens after a total lockdown for over a month.
It also said that all the tea garden authorities were directed by the civil administration to meticulously follow the do�s and don�ts of the health advisories. But the release claimed that the garden owners showed utter disregard to the said rules and regulations.
The students� body added that only 50 percent workers were being engaged in production work while the rest of the workers are in dire straits sans any means of sustenance as the garden management has refused to provide them rations.
Significantly, the Adivasi students� union demanded action against the tea garden owners for failing to honour their commitment towards the workers and employees. The students� body informed that only those who have Dhan Jan accounts have got Rs 500 released by the government, but the rest are yet to get any kind of assistance.
However, government sources here denied the allegations and claim that there has been no report of violation of the COVID-19 directives in any tea garden as there is constant monitoring going on by a network of observers at the garden level, revenue Block level and district level.
Abhinandan Borthakur, Labour Officer of Sivasagar told The Assam Tribune today that the lockdown was lifted partially in the tea gardens after holding exhaustive meetings with all the stakeholders, i.e., the garden owners, employees� associations and student bodies like All Assam Tea Tribe Students� Association and district administration.
All possible steps have been taken as precautionary measure to protect the workers and employees, Borthakur added.