Rs 100 Cr for welfare of tea garden workers

The Mamata Banerjee government will set up a Rs 100 crore corpus fund for the welfare of the 2.62 lakh tea plantation workers in 283 registered tea estates in Bengal.

Labour minister Moloy Ghatak tabled the West Bengal Tea Plantation Employees’ Welfare Fund Bill, 2015, which was passed in assembly on Thursday .

The minister pointed out that many tea estates not belonging to corporate houses or established tea families often violate provisions of the Plantation Labour Act, 1951, that provides for free housing, medical facilities, primary education, water supply , electricity and food grains to workers.

Smaller tea gardens deny these rights, saying they don’t have the money for it. This is why an inter-ministerial committee set up by the Centre and governments of Bengal and Assam recommended that the state share some of the statutory social security measures.

Accordingly , the government will sanction soft loans from the corpus fund to defaulting employers to help them discharge their statutory responsibilities. Children of workers will be given scholarships to study in technical institutes.The corpus may also be used to grant incentives to investors who come forward to take over sick or closed tea gardens.