Sitharaman extends cash benefit to tea garden workers

a group of people posing for the camera

© Provided by The Indian Express

Ahead of the Assam elections, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Saturday launched the third phase of a direct benefit transfer scheme for the tea garden community, depositing Rs 224 crore, or Rs 3,000 each, in nearly 7.5 lakh bank accounts. Additionally, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma promised that the state government would soon increase the wages of tea garden workers.

A sum of Rs 2,500 was transferred to 6.3 lakh bank accounts in the first phase of the Assam Chah Bagicha Dhan Puraskar Mela Scheme in 2017-18. An additional Rs 2,500 was deposited in 7.15 lakh accounts in the second tranche in 2018-19.

The tea tribe community, making up 17% of the state’s population, has been affected by exploitation, economic backwardness, poor health conditions and low literacy rates. The BJP has now built a strong voter base among this community, overturning the Congress’s hold on it. In the Union Budget presented by Sitharaman on February 1, Rs 1,000 crore was announced for the welfare of tea workers in Assam and West Bengal.

Speaking at the ceremony in Guwahati, Sitharaman said tea workers have been neglected for a long time and have led a disadvantaged life.

She added that since the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government came to power in 2014, multiple measures for its upliftment have been taken up.

She said that the inclusion of the tea worker community in the formal banking system has enabled direct transfer of benefits of government schemes without middlemen or leakage.

At the event, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said more than 8 lakh bank accounts were opened for tea garden workers after demonetisation. He thanked PM Modi for conferring the Padma Shri award on artist Dulal Manki, who belongs to the community.

Sam Son

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