DIBRUGARH, March 13 - In order to get to the bottom of the wide range of problems of the plantation workers, Socio Educational Welfare Association (SEWA) with support from ‘Save the Children’ on Monday organized a consultation meeting with all the stakeholders of the tea industry in an effort to form a multi-actor working group to push for a healthy environment conducive to holistic growth of children and women in plantations. ‘Save the Children’, is an international organization, which works for the rights of the children across the globe. SEWA is a city-based non-governmental organization working in multi areas ranging from health, children, civic issues, nutrition, education, rights of children and women etc. The consultation meeting backed by ‘Save the Children’ was organized by SEWA at Hotel Tea County here.
The consultation was attended by representatives from Bharatiya Chah Parishad (BCP), district administration, Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, Chah Jonogustiya Jatiya Mahasabha, BJP-affiliated Chah Morcha, Small Tea Growers, scholars from Dibrugarh University.
Presentations on various issues plaguing the tea industry particularly pertaining to children, women and the workers like health, education, child labour, child marriage, drinking, gambling, domestic violence, trafficking and other issues were made by Titus Bhengra, HoD, Department of Political Science, DHSK College, Nabin Keot, secretary, ACMS, Dibrugarh branch, Gautam Borthakur, Faculty, Centre for Management Studies, Dibrugarh University, Dolly Prabha Kalita, Secretary, Bharatiya Chah Parishad, John Paul Tirkey, Programme Officer, SEWA and several others. All the speakers endorsed the need for collective effort.
The consultation meeting was conducted jointly by litterateur Padma Shri Prahlad Chandra Tasa and Dr Sewali Borbora, Chairperson, District Child Welfare Committee as the panelist. Arfan Hussain, assistant general secretary and programme coordinator of SEWA anchored the proceedings.
Earlier, the meeting was formally inaugurated by Jadav Saikia, the District Development Commissioner. Saikia while highlighting issues like poor health, drinking, child marriage etc., said that the plantations workers are caught in vicious circle problem. “One problem intensifies or aggravates the other problem. For example: Child Marriage gives rise to poor health of the mother and child, which again will cause additional economic burden and so on,” said Saikia.
Prahlad Chandra Tasa said that there is an urgent need to address the issues of the tea gardens in a collaborative manner involving all stakeholders. “All of us must contribute towards alleviation of the problems of the plantation workers. Blaming others for all the ills or sitting back will not bring solution. We must engage ourselves for the well being of the people in the tea gardens,” said Tasa. Dr Sewali Borbora urged the stakeholders to be watchful of the child trafficking, child marriage and child abuse menace in the gardens.
The meeting identified some seven major issues and chose three issues where each stakeholder could extend their support in eradicating it. The meeting also proposed activities to realize it in a collaborative manner. The issues like poor health, malnutrition, poor rate of literacy, low wage, drinking, child labour, child marriage etc. were raised. SEWA proposed to form a multi-actor working group involving the members to create a strong network to address the issues of children and women residing in the tea gardens in Assam.