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Rs100cr plan for tea tribes

Guwahati, Dec. 22: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today announced that the state government would take up a Rs 100-crore project for welfare of tea garden workers in the state.

The project, Gogoi said would focus on providing vocational training and employment to people living in tea gardens.

Speaking at the biennial convention of the Asom Cha Janogosthi Sahitya Sabha at Tinsukia in Upper Assam, about 470km from here, Gogoi said the state government would soon announce a special education scheme for the tea garden people and a special cell would be opened in the education department to look after their education.

“We want to open residential schools in tea garden areas so that students of the tea garden, including those belonging to other communities can stay in those schools and study well. The government will also give scholarships to meritorious students,” an official statement quoting Gogoi said.

The chief minister also announced Rs 20 lakh as benefit to the Sahitya Sabha for publication of books on Adivasi literature.

“The state government is in consultation with all associated with the tea gardens to find a solution to all the problems and concerns of the tea community,” the statement said.

Gogoi’s welfare package is, however, seen by many as a sop to appease voters associated with the state’s tea gardens ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. Voters in tea gardens play a crucial role in every election in Assam.

Gogoi, however, did not specifically mention about the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for Adivasis living in Assam. For decades Adivasis have been seeking ST status. A delegation comprising student organisations and Adivasi militant groups, who are in ceasefire, recently met Gogoi here and urged him to step up state government’s efforts to take up the issue of ST status with the Centre.