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ATCL hospitals to extend ambit

- Rural health mission to run scheme

Jorhat, Jan. 19: The hospitals belonging to the Assam Tea Corporation Ltd (ATCL) will be brought directly under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) which will not only cater to the needs of garden workers but also people living near the tea estates.

ATCL chairman Rameswar Dhanowar told The Telegraph that the company had sent a proposal to the government in this regard and had received a positive response.

The company has 15 full-fledged hospitals — one each in 15 tea estates owned by it apart from several dispensaries located in the out divisions. These hospitals and dispensaries are currently run under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode with the NRHM which was implemented from 2010-11.

Dhanowar said the nitty-gritty about bringing the hospitals directly under the NRHM had not been worked out as yet but it was most likely that the hospitals would be given out on 10 to 15 years’ lease.

Although several hospitals belonging to sick tea gardens in the state are now run under the PPP mode of the NRHM, this will be the first time that the tea garden hospitals will be brought directly under the NRHM.

The government-owned PSU, that has been ailing for years and had gone bankrupt around the turn of the century, had a turnover of only Rs 14 crore when it was revived in 2005. This increased to Rs 36 crore in 2009 and crossed the Rs 50-crore mark in 2010, following a series of revival steps initiated by the management and strong government initiatives.

The company has been able to pay wages and salaries to its labourers and staff regularly for the past few years following the revival initiatives taken up by the government. It has also been gradually providing benefits that the workers and staff are entitled to and paying provident fund arrears. The corporation has over 15,000 workers.

The company has also paid a 20 per cent bonus to its labour force during this year’s Durga Puja after a long gap.

Dhanowar said although the income of the company had been increasing in the last few years following various revival measures taken up by the government, it had not been able to make profit.

“The company has also failed to achieve its target this year,” he said.

Dhanowar said the company had plans to carry out plantations in vacant areas in all the 15 gardens and had decided to open nurseries to raise saplings. “We have plans to raise about 15 lakh saplings in these nurseries in the next few years so that we can carry out plantations in new areas,” he said.


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