Guwahati, Dec 24: Leader of the Opposition of Assam Debrata Saikia has appealed to the Central government to make arrangements for disbursing a portion of the wages of tea garden workers in cash so that they can cope up with crisis triggered by demonetisation.
Saikia's appeal after the November 8 move to demonetise the economy and imposed restrictions on handling of cash and promote cashless transactions. The tea gardens of Assam remained one of the worst sufferers due the century old system of cash payments on weekends.
"The Assam government had taken up steps to open accounts of the tea garden workers post demonetization. But the fact remains that most of the tea gardens in the state are yet to have banks or ATMs near them, making life miserable for the tea garden workers," Saikia said on Saturday.
Saikia, son of former Assam Chief Minister Late Hiteswar Saikia, represents Nazira constituency.
Since the move, the Assam government has stopped the existing system of cash weekly payment of wages to the tea garden workers and resorted to fast opening of bank accounts for the tea garden workers and to transfer their wages electronically to their accounts.
The government had also announced an incentive of Rs 100 per labour every three months if he accepts his wages through bank accounts.
"My constituency Nazira is surrounded with tea gardens and I can see the horrible situation the tea garden workers are facing post demonetization. As there are no banks or ATMs near their gardens, the workers had to walk from 3 kms to 9 kms to withdraw their money from the nearest ATM.
"Mackeypore Tea Estate is one such example. There are 2,900 workers in total in the garden out of which only 2,198 has bank accounts so far. However, the nearest ATM is located at Gelaky at a distance of 8 kms and the other ATM located at Nazira, located about 9 kms away from the garden," Saikia said.
"This is not the situation of only one garden. Lakhs of tea garden workers in hundreds of tea estates in are facing the similar situation."
"The government can consider paying a portion of the wages on cash and the rest of the portion should be transferred electronically to their accounts. This is, I believe, will relieve the tea garden workers who had been struggling for currencies in remote areas of the state," he added.