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Tea gardens prepped to manage disasters

Jorhat, Oct. 5: The Jorhat centre of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Plantation Management has launched a campaign in tea gardens across the state to prepare these to meet any emergency situation arising out of natural calamities like earthquakes and flood and also to tackle other hazards like fire.

The institute, after carrying out a study on the present status of safety measures in place in the gardens, decided that a campaign, including demonstration by personnel of the State Disaster Management Authority and the State Fire Organisation, was necessary as many gardens had not upgraded the safety standards and also did not have an immediate response plan to tackle any exigency.

The institute’s Jorhat centre in-charge, Rangan Bhuyan, told The Telegraph that they had prepared a training module for carrying out the drive. He said such an awareness drive was a necessity as Assam was in a seismically active zone and tremors often occurred in the state.

Bhuyan said the Tea Board had funded the programme under its project Grassroots Workforce Governance and Management and added that the programme had been started on Sundays in gardens in Upper Assam about a fortnight back. Sundays had been chosen because it is a holiday for all workers, factory staff and managers, allowing them to attend the programme.

He said the institute had been receiving requests from a large number of estates across the state and dates were being worked out.

Bhuyan said in the last two Sundays, awareness meets were organised at Barsapori and Difflo tea gardens in Golaghat district. Those gardens having factories would be given priority to organise the drives, he added.

The module covers tips on how to prepare for a natural calamity, how to move to safe places when it occurs along with medical precautions and post calamity actions. Booklets on disaster preparedness written in Assamese are also distributed in the meetings.

Bhuyan said the next set of meetings would be held after the Durga Puja holidays.

Anjan Bhuyan, additional secretary of Assam Tea Planters’ Association, one of the oldest and largest tea gro-wers’ bodies in the state, said such awareness drives were very welcome. He said tea estates would benefit a lot as no such demonstration had been held till date in the gardens.

The centre in-charge said since a month back, the institute’s Jorhat centre had also initiated a programme to strengthen labour-management ties by organising separate training for executives and representatives of labourers. A module — Reach-out programme on labour management and industrial relations — has been prepared by the institute after carrying out a study with the Assam branch of the Tea Association of India.