Guwahati, Nov 15 (UNI) In a major boost to healthcare facilities in Assam's tea gardens, the State government today announced in the Assembly it would bear expenses towards providing clean drinking water and the beneficiaries' share under total sanitation campaign.
A new legislation, making erring departments and tea garden managements responsible for failure to provide these facilities, was also mooted in the state Assembly.
State Health and Family Welfare Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma made these announcements during a call attention motion, moved by Opposition AGP MLA Girindra Kumar Barua.
Mr Barua, drawing attention to a news item on the state government's reported crackdown on erring tea gardens following outbreak of diarrhoea and cholera a couple of months back, maintained gross violation of human rights and lack of proper drinking water and sanitation facilities had led to the diseases, which claimed over 150 lives.
He also quoted a joint report of UNICEF, health department and medical experts' on the reasons for the outbreak which attributed the main causes to unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation facilities.
Mr Barua also wanted to know the suitable the government was taking to check flouting of rules in the future.
Dr Sharma, in reply, said the government, as reported in the news items, cited by Mr Barua, had started proceedings for filing of FIRs against erring tea gardens.
However, the immediate steps, launched by the tea gardens after the minister's announcement of the crackdown, saw containment of the diseases.
Dr Sharma further informed any tea garden, which failed to provide safe drinking water and necessary sanitation facilities, would be booked under criminal laws from next year.
To aid the ailing tea gardens, not having funds of their own, the state government had decided to implement drinking water schemes and also bear the beneficiaries' share for construction of toilets under total sanitation campaign.
The Tea Welfare Department had been entrusted with the task of identifying the tea gardens that would need government aid and all the departments would work in tandem to ensure the speedy implementation of these plans, the Minister added.
He also mooted the idea of legislation for fixing responsibility in case of breach on part of the tea garden management.