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Electricity for tea workers

- 250 Upper Assam gardens to get subsidised power

Jorhat, Dec. 22: The Assam government will supply electricity to labourers’ quarters of tea gardens at a subsidised rate.

Nearly 250 tea gardens in Upper Assam will be covered in the first phase in a project to be implemented by the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL).

A high-level meeting under the chairmanship of APDCL managing director Rajib Yadav attended by commissioner (Upper Assam division) S.I. Hussain, representatives from the tea planters’ associations, deputy commissioners of the five districts, was held at the Jorhat Gymkhana Club yesterday to discuss the project.

Mariani Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi, who attended the meeting, told The Telegraph today that the meeting was held to ensure implementation of the exclusive project for the benefit of tea workers.

Kurmi, who represents a constituency having a sizeable number of gardens, said electricity was “a necessity” in present day.

He said except a few handful tea estates in Assam, power connection was not available at the labour quarters.

The MLA said according to the details of the plan, installation of the power connection and meters will be free.

The government will provide a subsidy of Rs 1.10 paise per unit consumed on each such domestic connection.

The respective management of the gardens will do the internal wiring of the quarters.

He said the billing and maintenance would be done by the APDCL, but realisation of the bills would be carried out by a local franchisee.

The franchisee will be selected garden-wise after consultations between APDCL, garden management and the garden branch of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha.

Kurmi said the franchisee could be a local entrepreneur owning a firm, who would have to deposit a security amount with the APDCL.

The security amount will be estimated out of two months’ power bills.

He said the franchise would be allowed to take 15 per cent of the total amount collected from the monthly bills if the garden was big, and in case of a small one, the franchisee would be allowed up to take 30 per cent of the total collection.

A memorandum of understanding will be signed by all the stakeholders at the garden prior to implementation of the project.

Kurmi said the meeting asked the parties concerned to expedite the process of implementation of the project so that electricity could be supplied to the quarters of the labourers within a short period.

Sivasagar deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram said two gardens in the district have already selected the franchisees for the purpose and another 20 estates would be doing the samein next 10 days.

Tea Association of India secretary (Assam branch) J.N. Baruah said all the tea plantation bodies urged the government to provide at least four CFL bulbs per connection.

“By giving CFL bulbs the workers would be encouraged to use it in the future once there is need for replacement. As the consumption of such bulbs is low, the bill amount will be reasonable,” Baruah said.