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Assam flood scene grim, centre seeks report

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With nearly 300,000 people affected in the current round of floods in Assam, the centre on Thursday sought a report from the state government on the situation before providing assistance.

Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports, Sarbananda Sonowal, met union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, in New delhi on Thursday and apprised him of the flood situation in the state.2015-08-20_2343

“I have written to the chief minister (of Assam, Tarun Gogoi) asking for a report on the flood situation in the state,” Sonowal told reporters here, adding: “Once the Assam government’s report is received, the central government will provide assistance to the state.”

According to the latest flood report released on Thursday by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), 296,929 people in 611 villages in the state have been affected in the current floods.

Till now, 13 districts have been hit – Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur, Chirang, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Bongaigaon, Sivasagar, Nalbari, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Jorhat and Goalpara.

The authorities have opened 124 relief camps in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaigaon and Dibrugarh where nearly 84,800 people are taking shelter.

2015-08-20_2344

While the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level in Jorhat and Dibrugarh districts, the Jia Bharali has crossed the danger mark in Sonitpur, the Puthimari in Kamrup, and the Beki in Barpeta.

Meanwhile, referring to the Louis Berger kickbacks scam, Sonowal said that the people of Assam would not be satisfied with the inquiry ordered by Chief Minister Gogoi.

Former Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was holding the Guwahati development department portfolio when Louis Berger was selected as consultant for the Guwahati water supply project, being implemented by the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority with funds received from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

The scam came to the fore after the US Department of Justice found Louis Berger guilty of paying bribes to Indian officials, including ministers, for water supply projects in Goa and Guwahati.

(IANS)

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Tea Body of Assam Slam ‘Chaiwala’ Modi

The tea labourers of Assam live in the most deplorable conditions without some of the basic amenities, Gowala said

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Assam tea body slam 'chaiwala' Modi,

The largest tea body of Assam on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often refer to himself as a “chaiwala”, for not being considerate towards the state’s tea garden workers’ plight and urged him to implement the promised minimum wage of Rs 350 before the new year starts.

The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) General Secretary Rupesh Gowala said while Modi often refers to himself as a “chaiwala”, he is yet make good on his promises towards a million tea garden labourers in the state in the last four years.

“Before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, Modi addressed several rallies in Assam and assured that the tea garden labourers would be paid a minimum wage of Rs 350 per day,” Gowala said.

“If this happens, the 10,00,000 tea garden labourers will lose Rs 30 each day for two months. Is it a “chaiwala” Prime Minister who is doing this to his own community?” said Gowala.

The tea garden workers in Brahmaputra Valley in Assam are presently drawing Rs 167 per day while the tea garden workers in Barak Valley are getting Rs 145 per day.

“The existing wage agreement between the Assam government and the ACMS and other tea workers bodies expired on December 31, 2017.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

“The government had announced an interim hike of Rs 30 per day. The tea garden labourers are supposed to get this interim hike from January 1, 2018, but the government is saying the hike will apply from March 1, 2018.

“This would make them lose Rs 30 per day for two months,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam is yet to fix that minimum wage, Gowala said, urging Modi to announce the promised Rs 350 per day minimum wage before 2019.

Gowala said the condition of all those tea gardens run by the Assam government was far worse.

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“While the labourers in company-owned garden are receiving a wage of Rs. 167 per day now, the 26,000 workers under the 14 gardens of state-owned Assam Tea Company Limited (ATCL) are receiving a wage of Rs 115 only per day,” he said.

Assam has over 800 medium and large size tea gardens that produces over 50 per cent of the country’s total tea produce.

The tea labourers of Assam live in the most deplorable conditions without some of the basic amenities, Gowala said. (IANS)