Saturday December 15, 2018
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Assam flood toll hits 13, CM undertakes aerial visit

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Guwahati: The flood situation across Assam continued to be grim as the toll rose to 13 on Sunday and 18 districts still remain inundated, officials said. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday undertook an aerial survey of the worst affected districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Goalpara and Dhubri. A total of 1,291 villages have been submerged so far, affecting 6.16 lakh people. The district administrations have opened 260 relief camps, housing 1.79 lakh people. Gogoi asked the concerned departments to expedite rescue and relief operations in all the flood-hit areas.

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He praised the National Disaster Response Force and the army for their efforts in rescuing marooned people, and said ministers and officials have fanned out to the affected areas and were monitoring the relief operation. The chief minister said the first priority of his government was providing relief to the flood-hit people. He said he has instructed the deputy commissioners of the affected districts to leave no stone unturned to extend all possible help to the affected people, especially children and women. “Restoration of surface communication and repair of breached embankments have also been accorded priorities,” he said. Gogoi slammed the BJP-led central government, saying it was yet to release a sizable chunk of funds sought by the state for infrastructure damage caused by floods last year.

“The Center has only released Rs.380 crore so far. We submitted memorandum to the central government including the prime minister and the home minister, but we have not received the funds sought by us for huge infrastructure damage caused by floods last year,” he said. Gogoi said there are no funds constraints in providing relief to the affected people. “We have funds for relief work. What we require from the central government is sufficient funds for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges, school buildings, health centers, houses and embankments damaged by floods last year and proper rehabilitation of the flood-hit people,” Gogoi said.

In a memorandum to Home Minister Rajnath Singh in October last year, Gogoi sought Rs.2,010 crore for damaged infrastructure. The state also demanded Rs.660 crore for rescue and relief operations. Besides, Rs.6,700 crore was sought as special assistance, which included Rs.3,500 crore for raising and strengthening of embankments and Rs.1,000 crore for mitigating flood problems in Guwahati city. Gogoi said the state government would prepare an assessment report highlighting the damage only after the flood waters recede.

(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.

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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)