Jorhat, July 22: The Assam government has constituted an autonomous development council for tea and ex-tea tribes in the state.
The first committee with 17 nominated members, assumed charge early this month and last week the first sitting of the council took place in Guwahati.
The council, headed by Manjula Rajput as chairperson, a former vice-chairman of Jorhat zilla parishad, and a resident of Titabar —represented by the chief minister Tarun Gogoi — is on the lines of other autonomous councils constituted by the government for various ethnic communities.
Official sources said the autonomous councils carry out development work in areas dominated by the respective indigenous groups by electing their own representatives for a five-year term, in addition to the schemes and projects undertaken by the different departments across the state.
The government nominates the first-time members of such councils.
Nagen Kurmi, one of the members of the newly constituted Tea and Ex-Tea Developmental Council, told this correspondent that on July 7, all the members took oath at the head office of the department of welfare of plains tribes and backward classes in Guwahati.
Another member, who will be a government official representing the government, is yet to be nominated.
Kurmi, who is the Titabar unit secretary of the Assam Cha Mazdoor Sangha, said the headquarters of the council is likely to be set up in Guwahati, as the jurisdiction of the council will be the districts comprising the tea belt spread across in the state.
Kurmi said the building for office accommodation and supporting staff to run the council will be appointed soon by the government.
He said the council would prepare the plan and estimate after the government allocates fund for the council’s budget.
The member said in the first meeting it was discussed that priorities would be given to health, sanitation, education and agriculture.
Kurmi said there were fewer schools in the garden areas compared to other areas and that there was a need to upgrade health services as well.
“Discussions figured around improvement in areas of health, education and women’s welfare. Providing coaching to students of tea and ex-tea workers and scholarships in the primary stage, providing financial assistance by supplying materials to construct low-cost houses were discussed,” Kurmi said, adding that all will depend on the budget amount the government will sanction.