JORHAT, July 16 - The 79th Annual General Meeting of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA) was held today at the TRA auditorium of Chinnamora where hundreds of planters, tea garden managers, tea-scientists and peoples’ representative participated.
Highlighting the issues faced by the planters across the State, ATPA Chairman Raj Barooah said that the order of the Tarun Gogoi government to increase the daily wage of a tea-garden worker to Rs 177 caused serious problems for the owners of the gardens across the State which was challenged by them in the High Court.
As the owners were compelled to bear the additional cost for the sudden hike of the daily wages in the pre-poll period, the tea industry of the State faced serious problems in its sustainability, said Barooah. Besides, he also narrated how the loopholes in the existing tea auction system deprived the sellers to earn more money from the business.
Seeking State government’s support for the growth of the age-old tea industry of the State, he made an appeal to BJP’s MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, who attended the meeting here today.
Responding to the speech of the ATPA chairman Barooah, the BJP MP Tasa blamed the planters of the State for the underdevelopment in the garden areas as most of the workers remained deprived of proper health service and welfare facilities.
“I think the hike of daily wage for the workers did not create any problem for the planters. Had the planters provided some required facilities to develop the skills of the workers for alternative industrial works in the garden premises, no owner of the gardens would have faced problems for the hike of the wages, ”said Tasa.
He urged the tea planters to prepare the workers for some alternative works and introduce better health-care facilities and welfare activities with the help of government agencies. Tasa also argued for reducing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the gardens of the State for sustainability and growth of the tea industry.
An annual report was also released by Tasa and other dignitaries of ATPA including newly-elected Chairman Arun Thekedath, Debeswar Bora and many others.