Ahead of the Assembly elections in Assam, the BJP-led state government on Saturday increased the daily wages of scores of tea garden workers from Rs 167 to Rs 217 per day, officials said.
The officials said that the Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has decided to increase the daily wages of tea garden workers from Rs 167 to Rs 217 per day.
The meeting also decided that to recommend equal wage for small tea workers, a one-man committee under Principal Secretary J.B. Ekka would be formed.
Increase in daily wages of tea workers is an election issue in Assam with opposition parties, including the Congress, criticising the BJP-led government for deliberately delaying wage revision for the last several years.
The main opposition Congress claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to revise the daily wages of tea workers in Assam to Rs 350 prior to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
While the tea garden workers in southern Assam are getting daily wages of Rs 145 per day, the workers in the remaining areas of the state are getting Rs 167 per day.
On February 6, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had distributed Rs 3,000 each to 7,46,667 tea garden workers in Assam under the 'Chah Bagicha Dhan Puraskar Mela' scheme. In the third tranche of the scheme, a total amount of Rs 224 crore was disbursed with Rs 3,000 getting transferred directly to 7,46,667 bank accounts of tea garden workers across the state.
The scheme was started by the Assam government in 2017-18 and that year Rs 2,500 each was provided to 6,33,411 tea garden workers, while a similar amount was deposited in 7,15,979 bank accounts the next year.
Assam has over 10 lakh tea garden workers in the organised sector working in 850 tea estates. The state roughly produces 55 per cent of India's total tea production of 1389.70 million kg. Tea tribe communities determine the votes in 30 to 35 of the 126 Assembly seats in the state.
Saturday's cabinet meeting also decided to allot 10 bighas of land to the World Renewal Spiritual Trust in Kamrup, besides approving the purchase of 8,000 wheelchairs for the ensuing Assembly elections, which are likely to be held in April-May this year.