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Congress’ Debabrata Saikia demands govt to ensure safety of tea workers amid rampant spread of COVID

GUWAHATI: Senior Congress leader and Nazira MLA Debabrata Saikia today urged the state government to ramp up anti-COVID measures in the tea garden areas of Assam.

In his own constituency, Saikia said, the health department has not been proactive enough in dealing with the COVID-19 virus in the second wave of the outbreak which has been more lethal.

Against the backdrop of a steep rise in the number of cases in tea gardens of the state, the MLA also opined that not enough has been done to address the concerns of the workers.

“After collecting leaves, they weigh them and there is huge crowding in these areas. The government should keep its eyes on these minute things,” Saikia said, adding that anti-COVID measures should be ramped up in these volatile areas where medical facilities are hardly upto the mark.

Saikia also mentioned the NDTV report that states that there has been a spike of over 300 percent in cases among the tea garden workers, while deaths have also gone up threefold.

According to the report, 57 new Covid care centres have come up in the tea garden. But around 29 affected tea gardens still don’t have Covid care centres.

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Saikia also slammed the state government over its failure to pay promised wages to the tea workers of the state.

The Assam government on Friday decided to hike wages of tea garden workers by Rs 38 and this will be effective from February 23 of this calendar year.

The previous BJP-led alliance government of former chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal in its last cabinet meeting in February this year had hiked the daily wage to Rs 217, but the garden owners approached the Gauhati High Court and the decision could not be implemented.

Meanwhile, Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that true to the “government’s commitment and for the welfare of the tea garden workers, we will raise the remaining Rs 12 after initiating consultation with stakeholders and we are confident that an acceptable solution will be found out very soon”.

Saikia has demanded the State government to fix Rs 351 as the minimum wage for the tea garden workers and urged it to issue another notification in this regard within a hundred day.

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