DIBRUGARH, Feb 8 - Stung by the allegation by State Labour Minister Pallab Lochan Das that there has been a massive scandal in ration supplies in the tea estates, the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) has taken up the gauntlet and challenged the government to order a judicial inquiry and find out the truth.
ACMS general secretary Dileswar Tanti thundered that the BJP-led Government in Assam has been engaging in issuing misleading statements, and likened the so-called ‘rice-scam’ as yet another blooper. Labour Minister Pallab Lochan Das had stated in the Assembly last week that there is a scandal in rice supply to tea garden workers, and that tea garden owners and ration suppliers are hand in glove in the matter. Das said the scandal has been happening for years on end under successive Congress regimes in the State.
Tanti said the government should institute an impartial judicial inquiry to find out if there is any truth in the alleged involvement of the ACMS in the so-called scandal. “Find out the truth, and punish the guilty, but don’t blame one and sundry to hide your weaknesses,” he said.
The ACMS leader also called upon the State Government to pay new rates of wages to the workers of tea gardens owned by the State-owned Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL), which is a totally mismanaged mess, a creation of nepotism in the State administration for decades on end. ATCL owns 15 tea gardens with an approximate worker strength of 15,000. These workers are still being paid Rs 115 as daily wages, while their counterparts in the private estates get Rs 137 a day, apart from other allowances.
Tanti warned the State Government not to curtail any ration quota for the tea workers under the pretext of a so-called scandal.