SILCHAR, Dec 5 - Abbas Ali, Bina Kalindi and their fellow tea labourers at Rosekandy Tea Garden in Cachar district are happy to have received their wages through bank accounts on Saturday as the garden became the first in the district to start disbursing weekly wages of the labourers in the new format.
Ishwar Bhai Ubhadia, general manager of the tea garden said that as many as 150 labourers were ceremoniously distributed their wages as per their accounts registered in the base branch of Assam Gramin Vikas Bank (AGVB). “It is a historical occasion for the garden. The monthly salary based employees have also been credited in the respective accounts. There are around 2000 workers in the garden and everyone will be able to avail the benefits,” Ubhadia said.
Congratulating the labourers on occasion, Rukan Uddin Ahmed, Regional Manager of Assam Gramin Vikas Bank (AGVB) said the bank was setup to extend financial assistance to the poor people and has been offering advanced facilities over the years. “The significant step taken by Prime Minister to make payments to the labourers through banks has now reached to the people in the tea gardens in Cachar district and we are happy at this brisk progress. We hope that the tea workers can avail facilities through the Customer Service Point here,” Ahmed said.
Interestingly, even as the tea workers are elated to have progressed with the opening of the bank accounts, they are also sceptical about how fast they will have cash in hand from the bank.
Abbas Ali, who was the first labourer to receive his wage through his bank account and thumb impressions, shared his feelings saying “I am happy to receive money in this new process. But the process seems to be time consuming with such technological complications. Let us see how the new development fares in the days ahead.”
Allaying apprehensions, Bhaskar Prasad Chaliha, secretary of the Surma Valley branch of the Indian Tea Association said that despite the initial hiccups, the new process of receiving payments will yield benefits in the long run. “Even as this looks to be a cumbersome process, this is just the start of a pro-people facility and we hope that the tea workers will reap benefits in the future,” Chaliha told the tea labourers.
On the other hand, PS Haobam, the Assistant Labour Commissioner Cachar shared his views saying “this is a U-turn phase and is a leap towards cashless society envisioned by the government. Opening accounts in bank is a boon for the tea garden workers in every sense of the term but it also calls for proper orientation so that they make proper use of the facilities.” However, he was quick to add that the Government must extend more time for gardens to open accounts of such a huge number of workers and employees.
According to statistics from the district labour office, there are 55 tea gardens in Cachar district. Eminent journalist TR Choudhury cautioned the workers not to fall prey to the alluring promises of touts and agents while receiving payments from the banks. D Das, DDM, NABARD and DN Baroi, assistant general secretary of Barak Cha Sramik Union also spoke on the occasion.