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‘Centre to focus on north-east roads’

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

In a bid to address the issue of poor connectivity in India’s north-east, the central government is planning to focus on the road sector in the region in a big way, Minister of State for Development of Northeastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said on Friday.

Singh said this when a delegation of Manipur-based Socio-Economic Development Organisation (SEDO) called on him with a request to consider a proposal for an alternative and shorter inter-state road link between Manipur and Assam from Tuibong, the headquarters of Manipur’s Churachandpur district, to Jiribam on the Assam border.

The minister said the emphasis would not only be on constructing new roads and widening the existing ones but also on laying down a network of inter-state roads that were hitherto not owned by any of the respective states and were often referred to as “orphan roads”, according to an official statement.

The SEDO delegation, led by Letkho Haokip, handed over to Singh a memorandum and a letter of recommendation from Manipur parliamentarian Thangso Baihe.

According to the memorandum, the existing link between Manipur and Assam through a road from state capital Imphal to Silchar in southern Assam is about 250 km long and also has a huge traffic load.

An alternative road from Tuibong to Jiribam, if constructed, will reduce the distance between the two states to less than 150 km.

In the memorandum, the delegation requested the minister to take up this road project under the Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resource (NLCPR) for 2015-16. This will not only help in improving the connectivity but also help in bringing all the underdeveloped parts of the region closer to the mainstream, it stated.

According to the members of the delegation, they had approached the Manipur government for inclusion of the project in the state priority list of NLCPR for 2015-16 and were told that it had also been recommended to the DoNER ministry.

(With inputs from 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)