Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts

Solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU for tea garden workers

10:26 AM

A statement of solidarity from Gorkha Students, JNU to the protesting tea garden workers for their minimum wage

All tea workers unions from Darjeeling, Dooars and Tarai under the broad banner of Joint Forum have decided to go for a 48 hour strike in Bengal against the exploitation of tea garden owners of Bengal, who are living in deplorable condition with less than minimum wage which is insufficient to live a dignified life. It is co-incidentally at the same time when the people of Gorkhaland are struggling against the oppressive linguistic imposition of the Bengal government on the indigenous people of the land.  The Hills, Terai and Dooars of Gorkhaland are gripped in seething angst when it is forced to witness the misery of its own people in the form of hunger and starvation deaths. It is outrageous to see the workers of a multi-million industry (tea plantation) dying a slow and painful death due to hunger and starvation. The irony of this situation is lies in the presence of stark poverty, chronic hunger and exploitation along-side the colossal profits these tea-gardens generate for the owners and the State. According to an estimate by the Darjeeling Chamber of Commerce, tea industry in the hills generates an average of Rs. 450 crores revenue annually, equal to that of the tourism industry in the region. Absence of workers’ rights, non-payment of minimum wages and benefits is not specific to the tea-industry alone but is rather a persistent feature of work in the highly segment labour-market in India. However, it is pertinent to highlight here the starkly Regional Aspects of Discrimination that lies so strongly visible in the tea industry. The minimum wage paid to unskilled tea labour in Kerala is Rs.301, in Assam it is Rs.158.54, in neighbouring Sikkim it is Rs. 200 while the same in Darjeeling comes to a meagre Rs.112. Even the minimum wage paid in West Bengal for MGNREGA is around Rs. 130-151 and for agricultural laborer is Rs. 206 per day. The tea workers in North Bengal are thus made to work for wages which is far below the minimum in any form of work. It is very shrewd on the part of the owners to claim low wages are due to low price being earned from the sales of tea leaves produced from these gardens. If this be the case then why the wages of workers remains same in those tea gardens which fetches the highest price in the world tea market( for instance Rs. 1.1 lakhs per kg of tea is produced by Makaibari tea garden but wages remain still at Rs.112).
In the last decade more than 1400 tea workers have died due to acute malnutrition and starvation. As recent as January 2013, 95 workers of the locked out Dheklapara Tea Estate in Dooars sent a letter to the Chief Minister of West-Bengal seeking her “order” to kill themselves because they were suffering from acute starvation. The tea workers therefore are forced to languish till they die of hunger and malnutrition. Studies show that 70% of the people of the closed tea gardens suffer from chronic energy deficiency III stage. In the gardens affected by starvation death like Red Bank, Bandapani, Diana and Kathalguri tea gardens, it was found that workers and their families have Body Mass Index (BMI) identical to those populations affected by severe famine.
The starvation death in the tea gardens, the crushing of the identity of the Gorkhas and other minorities and the denial of basic rights to oppressed communities in Bengal has been a phenomenon for centuries in Bengal. The hegemonic forces are united to crush every single voice of dissent and so now the time has come that the oppressed be united to fight against this domination for a better tomorrow.
At this hour of crisis, Gorkha Students, JNU stands in full support with the tea garden workers and the Gorkha people in their struggle for dignity, self-respect and a better life. When Oppressors are always united and consolidated, it is a historic responsibility on our shoulders to unite and fight for a just and egalitarian society!
We also demand that:
1. Closed and abandoned tea estates be reopened immediately.
2. Stop privatisation of government operated tea gardens.
3. Declare and implement Minimum Wage for tea plantation workers.
4. Grant legal ownership of housing space to workers
5. Casual labour should also be brought under the purview of Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
6. Backlog of unpaid Provident fund and gratuity should be cleared without delay.

Gorkha Students, JNU

Seventh / 7th Pay Commission approved by the Union Cabinet, 24% Salaries, Pensions Hike

8:17 PM
29th June 2016 Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the recommendations made by the 7th pay commission. Overall increase in Salaries and allowances will rise by at least 23.5 per cent, which had been recommended by the 7th Pay Commission - the panel that decides on government salaries. Arrears will be paid within this year. The 7th Pay Commission report will be effective from January 1, and the Cabinet will decide if the arrears for the six months have to be paid in one go or in installments.

Under the new scheme, the maximum salary for a government servant will be about 2.5 lakhs a month, that's more than double the highest pay of Rs. 90,000  a month. Gratuity has been increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 25 lakh and House Building Advance was raised from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the recommendation to increase minimum pay from existing Rs 7,000 to Rs 18,000 per month which is more than double of the present Rs. 7,000.

Up to 15% hike in basic salaries of central government staff and similar big raises in allowances and pensions that will benefit some 10 million employees. For junior employees, the hike in basic pay will be 14.27%. This means a fresh IAS recruit will get a basic salary of Rs 56,000 a month against Rs 23,000 now, while a sepoy in the Indian Army will earn Rs 21,700 a month from Rs 8,460 at present. In addition, employees are paid dearness allowance and house rent among many other allowances.
7th Pay Commission approved by the Union Cabinet
7th Pay Commission approved by the Union Cabinet

In a nutshell
# House Building Advance (HBA) increased from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 25 lakh.
# Gratuity increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.
# Rate of increment recommended and accepted at 3% per year.
# Separate pay matrices for civil, Defence and MNS.
# MoF to work out a customised group insurance scheme with low premium and high risk cover.

# Ex-gratia lump sum compensation for civil and defence forces personnel from 10-20 lakh to 25-45 lakh.
# Minimum pay of Rs 18,000 per month recommended against the existing Rs 7,000.
# Based on Minimum Pay, fitment factor of 2.57 approved for revising pay of all employees uniformly across all Level: Jaitley.
# The cost of implementing the recommendations of the 7th pay commission will cost Rs 1,02,100 crore to the exchequer: Jaitley.

Last year in November the pay panel had recommended 14.27 per cent hike in basic pay at junior levels, the lowest in 70 years.The 6th Pay Commission had recommended a 20 per cent hike which was doubled by the government while implementing it in 2008.

The government had in January set up the high-powered panel for the recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission.

For the 7th Pay Commission effective from January 1 2016 Cabinet will decide if the arrears for the six months have to be paid in one go or in installments.

"Considering the tight fiscal position this year, the government may improve upon the Pay Commission recommendation for basic pay to 18 per cent or at best 20 per cent," a senior official said.

Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this big story:

  1. The move will benefit an estimated 10 million government employees including nearly 60 lakh pensioners, starting from January 1, 2016. Among the defence services, 14 lakh serving officers and 18 lakh retired members will be covered.
  2. Arrears will be paid within this year, said Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
  3. The last major hike in 2008 saw an average raise of nearly 50 percent. The auto and retail sectors gained in the stock market after today's announcement.
  4. The increments - considerably smaller than past increases-  will cost the government about one lakh crores or 15 billion dollars every year.
  5. While this cost is a whopping 0.7 percent of India's GDP, the hike is the lowest in the last seven decades.
  6. The new allowances and hikes were cleared by the cabinet today and are based on the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission - a government committee which reviews the pay of government employees nearly every decade.
  7. Government workers also have been getting half-yearly and annual increments linked to prices. The new rules do away with 52 allowances and merge 36 others.
  8. Under the new scheme, the maximum salary for a government servant will be about 2.5 lakhs a month, that's more than double the top-rung pay of Rs. 90,000 a month.
  9. The least a government officer can now be paid is  Rs. 18,000 a month, more than double the current compensation of Rs. 7,000 offered to the most  junior employees.
  10. The government is counting on the higher salaries to result in more consumer spending which could trigger economic growth.However, some experts believe that the additional cash in the market could fuel inflation. To keep a check on price rise driven by greater liquidity in the market, the government plans to keep a close eye on the mark

7th Pay Commission Bill Pass with Merge 50% DA

12:38 AM
18th Jun 2016 Good News for Central Government Employee: 7th Pay Commission Bill Pass with Merge 50% DA. Waiting for all central government employees is over by declaring this good news. 50 percentages DA is merge in Basic pay is finally accepted by central government of India. This will affect form 01-01-2016.

Highlights of 7th Pay Commission Benefits
  1. Minimum Pay is 21000 per month.
  2. There is no Grade pay system. Only pay scale is there.
  3. Retirement Age is 60 years or 33 year of service which is first it is applicable. Read Full Article
  4. This salary Increment is implemented from 01-01-2016. This will be effective from 01 August 2016 in central government.
  5. Arrears will be given in one installment.
  6. The final report by the 13-member Committee of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha may be submitted on June 18.
  7. Seventh Pay Commission Panel had recommended 23.55% hike in salary. But now it may be 30% hike said by news.

As per Media Report the secretaries group may recommended a 30 percent increase in minimum and maximum basic pay structures along with doubling of existing rates of allowances and advances.
7th Pay Commission Bill Pass with Merge 50% DA
7th Pay Commission Bill Pass with Merge 50% DA
The 7th Pay Commission had suggested a maximum basic pay of Rs 2,50,000 and a minimum of Rs 18,000. A 30 percent increase would translate into maximum monthly salary of Rs 3,25,000 and minimum at Rs 23,400, respectively.

From 1st August this all recommendation will be implemented. And from this month you will get your new increased salary.

Arrears will be given in in only one installment.

Calculate Your New Pay Scale
Download Above Image.
See your Current Pay scale and Grade Pay. In Last column there is a new Initial Pay as per seventh pay commission. This is expected pay scale and initial salary.



Via 7thpaycommission

GJM Demands Land Rights for Tea Garden Workers - Minimum Salary of Rs 322/-

7:22 AM
A high level delegation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha led by its president Bimal Gurung and Darjeeling Lok Sabha MP SS Ahluwalia called on the Union commerce and industries minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi and served her a memorandum placing various demands on behalf of the tea garden workers.

The memorandum places two very important demands:
1. Bringing the tea gardens under the purview of Minimum Wages Act.
2. Increasing salary of tea garden workers to Rs. 322 /- as of September 2013.
3. Issuing Land Rights to the tea garden workers
4. Reopening of all the shut down gardens in the region.
The minister has assured that she is keeping a close eye on the plight of the tea garden workers and will take necessary steps to remedy the situation at the earliest.

The GJM delegation highlighted number of important issues relating to the tea industry in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars region to Smt Nirmala Sitharam.

The first related to bringing all tea garden workers in these areas immediately under the Minimum Wages Act 1948. It is sad and unfortunate that thousands and thousands of tea workers employed in the plantations in these areas till this day continue to earn a pittance that is decided by the tea garden management. This notwithstanding the fact that in the rest of the country workers in scheduled employment enjoy benefits under the Minimum Wages Act 1948.
GJM Demands Land Rights for Tea Garden Workers

GJM immediate plea was that the Wages/Salary of Staffs, Sub-Staffs and workers needs to be regulated without any further delay, by including the tea workers in the Scheduled Employments under the Minimum Wages Act 1948. The current wages should be calculated taking into account the overall inflation, AICP Index and Minimum Wages Act with an effort to meet the basic needs of the Plantation Labours. The Wages of Workers should be calculated starting from Rs. 322 /- as of September 2013. DA payable to the Staffs and Sub-Staffs should be calculated scientifically by giving priority to yearly AICP Index.

The second issue related to death of 22 persons by malnutrition so far in the tea gardens of Darjeeling Terai and Dooars since May 12, 2015. The starvation/malnutrition deaths due to closure of tea gardens are as follows; Panighatta 5, Hantupara 3, Dumsipara 6, Bagrakote 7, Nagaisjree 1. Considering the sensitive situation in these closed tea gardens, there is an urgent need for intervention by the Centre so that more lives are not lost.

Presently many tea gardens in the Dooars region have remained closed and death toll due to starvation/ malnutrition has reached over 1000 since 2002. Due to the lack of basic living amenities like calorie-based food, medical facilities, potable drinking water, access to alternative employment opportunities and minimal wages, human trafficking, especially child trafficking is rampant in the region, and even the local social organizations and government agencies seem to be unable to handle and curb the growing instances of trafficking activities.

Besides these closed tea gardens, there are some other tea gardens also which have faced closure for some time now. The GJM delegation appealed to the Central government to take immediate steps to ensure that these closed gardens begin operations without any further delay so that workers are able to work and get their rightful due.

The issue of granting Pattas (Land rights) to the tea garden workers in all tea gardens is another demand of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which we have been seeking. We would like to request that the Centre intervene in this regard so that landless tea garden workers, who have been deprived of land for generations now, will finally be able to own a piece of land.

The Darjeeling and Dooars tea are famous world over. The Darjeeling tea has been accorded the Geographical Indicator (GI) status by the World Trade Organization, making it one of the most well recognized brands of tea across the world. Notwithstanding this deep market penetration by ‘Indian tea,’ the huge working population – more than 4 lakhs permanent member, out of which more than three lakh permanent workers are there in the Districts of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, who are engaged in the tea sector in West Bengal.

The GJM delegation has appealed to the Hon'ble Minister to visit the tea gardens of North Bengal & Darjeeling and see the situation in reality. The Hon'ble Minister said that she is closely monitoring the situation of tea garden industry in North Bengal.

Via TheDC & dstv darjeeling

Darjeeling Orange crisis probe

1:16 PM
Writes Vivek Chhetri and Rajeev Ravidas

Darjeeling, Nov. 27: The state government has decided to investigate the recent spate of fungal infection and pest attacks on Darjeeling oranges that dropped the yield of the fruit by more than 50 per cent compared to last year.

State agricultural minister Purnendu Bose who is currently in Darjeeling said: "This is my first official visit to the hills after becoming minister. A team of scientists from Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidyalaya will probe into the matter (the infection and pest attacks) and based on the report, we will take appropriate steps."

While 2.5 lakh quintals of oranges were produced in the hills last year, this time the yield is expected to be around 90,000 quintals.

Sources said 50 to 60 per cent of oranges in the hills were destroyed after a fungal infection and pest attacks.
Darjeeling Orange
Darjeeling Orange A file photo
The harvest season starts from November end and goes on till mid-January.

M.W. Moktan, a senior scientist and the in-charge of Darjeeling Krishi Vigyan Kendra, a unit of Uttar Banga Krishi Visvavidyalaya, Cooch Behar, spoke about three reasons for the spread of infection and pest attacks in the hill orchards.

"The main reason is that the farmers still practise the traditional method of farming and they are reluctant to adopt new technology. The other reason is that they do not follow proper nutritional management system, which is critical for the health of plants. Climate change, too, has affected the crops," he said.

Moktan, however, said that all was not lost and oranges could be saved if farmers took up modern methods. "Few farmers who have incorporated modern farming methods have not been affected. Disease and pest management must be done properly," he said.

Ram Prasad Sanyal, the assistant director of agriculture department, GTA, had earlier said that a spell of dry weather during the flowering season around March and April was one of the reasons for the drop in orange production.

Today, Bose said: "The agriculture department is acting as a nodal agency in bringing together departments like horticulture and fisheries. In the hills, there are seven seed farms but most are defunct. We plan to revive them. There was an agriculture fair in Kalimpong yesterday and I visited the stalls. While some farmers are trained, many are not. A building of the agriculture department in Kalimpong is lying without use. We will renovate it and start an agricultural training centre there."

Source Telegraph

Tea Joint Forum campaigns against Trinamul in Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad

11:59 AM
Leaders of the Joint Forum, the apex body of 24 trade unions of tea plantation workers, have said they will campaign for the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls with a plea to voters to keep Trinamul Congress at bay.

If Trinamul could be defeated in the three-tier rural polls, they said, the experiment will be replicated in the Assembly elections also.

Similar to the "Siliguri model", the initiative is the result of the success the forum could script earlier this year by getting tea planters to offer a good hike in the wages for the workers.

The forum's constituents are tea garden wings of the trade unions affiliated to the Congress, Left parties and other organisations.

Trinamul has three trade unions in the tea belt and none of them are members of the forum.
Darjeeling and Dooars Tea Workers Relief Organization - DAWN's photo
Darjeeling and Dooars Tea Workers Relief Organization - DAWN's photo
"We succeeded in getting a decent hike in wages, compared to previous pay rise. Besides, the state was forced to form an advisory committee to recommend minimum wages for tea garden workers. All these would not have been possible but for the initiative of the Joint Forum. The role of Trinamul's trade unions was not up to the mark during the wage talks," said Ziaur Alam, the Jalpaiguri district secretary of the Citu.

"In our campaign for the SMP polls, we are insisting that the workers join hands to achieve their rights and simultaneously ensure the development of their villages and their socio-economic uplift. It is necessary to maintain the unity so that the state government, which is not taking any step against tea planters accused of violating workers' rights and privileges, is forced to act," he added.

A senior Citu leader based in Darjeeling district said the forum's message was in consonance with the one passed on by the Left Front to voters in the SMP area and other parts of north Bengal.

"The Left Front has appealed to people to vote for any competent candidate other than the nominees fielded by Trinamul. The message was sent to stop Trinamul from coming to power at the SMP. In a similar manner, we are making it clear that the Trinamul trade unions have failed to meet the aspirations of the workers and could not fulfil their demands, though their party is in power in the state," said the Citu leader who didn't want to be named.

Elections to the SMP and by-polls to several other rural bodies in north Bengal will be held on October 3.

The trade unions said they intended to carry out a similar campaign in the 2016 Assembly elections.

"Trinamul has many trade unions for tea plantation labourers and it has created confusion among the workers. We will highlight this aspect during the campaign for the Assembly elections to keep Trinamul at bay. We are also expecting support from the trade union of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which has taken a vehement anti-Trinamul stance," said an INTUC leader in Jalpaiguri.

If the tea plantation workforce is united under the banner of the Joint Forum, Trinamul will be in a tight position in at least 11 Assembly segments in north Bengal.

Four constituencies in Darjeeling district, one constituency in North Dinajpur district, three constituencies each in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts have a substantial population of tea garden workers.

In 2011, despite having an alliance with the Congress, Trinamul was defeated in the constituencies where it had fielded candidates. The Congress won the seats where it contested.

Alok Chakraborty, the working president of Trinamul Tea Plantation Workers' Union, said the forum's efforts wouldn't succeed.

"It was our government that forced a substantial hike in wages. The Left never thought of implementing the minimum wages but our government took an initiative in that direction. Attempts by some unions to deter Trinamul from making inroads into the tea belt will not work," he said.

Source Telegraph

Bagdogra airport will not be shifted to Bihar

12:56 PM
The Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Dr Mahesh Sharma has made it clear that the Bagdogra airport which caters to the need of not only domestic passengers but also that of neighboring China, Nepal and Bhutan will not be shifted to Bihar and on the other hand the Pakyong airport in Sikkim will be developed soon.
Bagdogra airport
Bagdogra airport
Talking to the reporters from the North East, Dr Sharma said that the Government has decided not to shift the airport from Bagdogra to Purnea in Bihar. The Sikkim Lok Sabha MP PD Rai had urged the government to desist from relocating the Bagdogra Airport, as it will affect not only domestic traffic within the region but also international passengers.

Rai mentioned that the airport acts as a ‘hub’ for tourists visiting Sikkim and Eastern Himalayas, including yatris travelling to Kailash Mansarovar through the recently opened Nathu La route. China has allowed a second and shorter route to Mansarovar through Sikkim recently.

Bagdogra is the only airport for Sikkim and North Bengal, that serves as the most important airport for a large area including Bhutan, Lower Assam, Eastern Bihar and Eastern Nepal, Rai said. It has vast economic and cultural importance for the people of Sikkim and North East, he added.
The Union Minister said that work is in full swing to make the Pakyong airport in Sikkim operational. Tourist inflow both foreign and domestic to North East mainly Sikkim has increased recently.

The Pakyong airport spread over 400 hectares of land is an airport under construction near Gangtok. It is the first Greenfieldairport to be constructed in the North Eastern Region of India and the only airport in Sikkim.


“Darjeeling Anthurium” started by GTA at Devitar in Jamuni

10:54 AM
The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has started the cultivation and marketing of the tropical anthurium flower and has plans to convert it into a brand, following in the footsteps of the Darjeeling tea. GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung inaugurated the “Darjeeling Anthurium” project at Devitar in Jamuni 16 km from Darjeling town on Tuesday.
“Darjeeling Anthurium”
“Darjeeling Anthurium” started  by GTA at Devitar in Jamuni
The project estimated at Rs 2.5  crore has been set up in two ploy houses where 14 varieties of anthuriums are being cultivated. GTA had brought 50000 anthurium plants from Rigin Plants in Holland and planted them in the two ‘poly-houses.’

GTA has already got orders for 500 anthurium plants from Delhi. “It is a good beginning as we have already got orders from Delhi for the tropical anthurium plant and talks are in progress with links in Kolkata. We have also started the marketing process in other parts of the country,” said GTA Horticulture department secretary Sonam Bhutia.
“Darjeeling Anthurium”
Anthurium at “Darjeeling Anthurium”
Unlike in Sikkim where only three varieties are cultivated, the GTA has 14 varieties of anthuriums plants in the two ploy houses at Jamuni. The 14 varieties are according to the different colours. These include princess alexia mint, princess alexia red, first yellow, first red, orange queen and mick jagger among the others.

GTA will set up a cold storage room at Chowrastha with sale counter to market and promote the anthuriums, locally. “We are planning to start sell of the plant locally from October, later this year. The project is feasible because of helpful climate of the region and also because these plants can be grown throughout the year,” Bhutia said.

This was the first phase of the project and plans were also afoot to establish a horticulture park in Darjeeling along with other ornamental plants.

GTA Horticulture senior scientific officer Mahadev Chehttri said: “There are about 50,000 plants in the two poly houses for these plans especially for the plants. Each plant can give about 10 to 12 flowers as they grow the whole year round. Annually, we will be able to generate about 500,000 of cut flowers and sold at Rs.15 to 20 for each cut flower, according to the market price”. According to Chhetri, the plants could survive for about seven years and the flowers could be kept roughly for about six weeks after being cut.

The GTA chief executive was positive that the project would be successful but said a lot more was needed to be done. “The project has been made at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore and there are more things need to be done here like fencing for which more funds will be required. The project here will not only generate employment and revenue but we feel that it will also encourage farmers to grow such plants, “he said.

Gurung was also of the opinion that the project being near Jamuni would be an added attraction for tourists visiting the area. The council is developing Jamuni as a tourist spot where a boating facility is already available with the scenic mountain back-ground and tourist huts along the Chota Rangit river. A Mughal type garden and swimming pool facilities will also developed in the coming days.

Source: EOI

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