GUWAHATI: Assam government to hike the daily wage of the tea garden workers within 10 days, said state’s finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday as state government transferred Rs 3,000 each to the bank accounts of 7,46,667 tea workers under the Cha Bagichhar Dhan Puraskar Mela in presence of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Tea garden workers have been demanding a daily wage hike from the current Rs 167 to Rs 351 as proposed by the advisory board for tea workers. Despite producing more than half of all tea grown in India, and with more than a million workers being employed, tea garden workers in Assam get a meager daily wage.
Tea garden workers in Kerala get a minimum daily wage of Rs 310 while in Karnataka it is Rs 263 and Rs 241 in Tamil Nadu.
Sarma said, “Just wait for 10 more days. The state government is going to issue a notification hiking your wage. Besides, there will be more good news coming for the tea garden communities of the state in the next state cabinet meeting.”
He announced that schools built in 199 gardens to become functional from May 1.
Under the Cha Bagichhar Dhan Puraskar Mela, the tea garden workers had received two installments of Rs 2,500 each. The government has so far spent Rs 584 crore under the scheme.
Participating in the event, Sitharaman cited the Union Budget 2021 in which the government has proposed to provide Rs 1,000 crore for the welfare of tea workers in two poll-bound states – Assam and West Bengal.
She said, “Assam tea has a brand all over the world and the Centre is committed to the betterment of those who produce them.” She added that the government has been planning to work for better health and education of the children and women of the tea garden communities.
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal added, “It’s due to the constant effort of the government to provide better educational facilities to the children of the tea garden workers that three from the community have cracked the Assam civil service exam this year.”
Like every election in the state, this time also political parties have once again pointed their attention towards the tea gardens of the state-specifically upon some 60 lakh tea tribe population which consists of one of the largest chunks of the ‘decisive’ votes in the state’s Brahmaputra and Barak valley.
In the House of 126 in Assam, votes of tea garden workers work as a deciding factor in some 40 seats in Upper, Central, and Northern Assam besides Barak Valley.