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Jorhat: The All Assam Small Tea Growers Association (AASTGA) expressed resentment over fixed labour charges in small tea gardens across the state. A decision on the wages was taken recently by the Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma after a meeting held with representatives of the state’s tea associations and workers’ unions.

Rajen Bora, President, AASTGA , termed the decision as unfair and impossible to abide. It was unfortunate that small tea growers were seen in the same category as the big tea growers having better facilities. He also mentioned that representatives of AASTGA were not invited to the recent meeting held with the CM after which the decision was taken.

“Small tea growers of Assam have been bearing the brunt as tea leaves fetch less because of the absence of the fixed price for their produce and now the imposition of the fixed wages has added to their woes,” said Bora.

He said, “Small tea growers will not be able to pay Rs 232 fixed as labour wages at par with the big tea gardens until and unless the price of green leaf is fixed.”

Members of AASTGA stated that there is also no central or state government schemes or quota for manures to support them, even though they contribute greatly to the state’s economy.

AASTGA members also stated that despite being termed as an industry, they do not derive any benefits of subsidy, which is 30-35 % for others.

“It is the duty on the part of the authorities to ensure that the small tea growers of the state which plays a vital role in supporting the state’s economy gets a befitting reward for their produce and avail benefits of subsidies and schemes,” he said.

On Tuesday, Rajen Bora informed that a meeting will be called shortly on the issue of the imposition of fixed labour charges upon small tea growers of the state and to decide the further course of action.

In the past decade, small tea cultivation has started making inroads among the farmers of Assam which has made significant contributions to the development of the rural economy of Assam.

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