Assam’s Big Financial Inclusion Success Story: Over 7 Lakh Tea Garden Workers Part Of Banking System Post DeMo

Representative image of Tea garden workers (Indranil Bhoumik/Mint via Getty Images)

The Assam government will deposit Rs 2,500 each in over seven lakh bank accounts belonging to tea garden workers which were opened post demonetisation in accordance with its promise, The Sentinel reported.

This deposit is the second half of the Rs 5,000 incentive that was declared in the 2017-18 budget.

Before demonetisation, the tea industry in Assam used to follow the British system of running the gardens with the wages paid in cash and kind either on a weekly or fortnightly basis depending on the choice of individual gardens or companies owning them.

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To incentivize the tea garden employees to open bank accounts, the state government announced that Rs 5000 would be credited to their bank accounts immediately opened post-demonetisation.

The government followed up the promise by launching the ‘Chah Bagicha Dhan Puraskar Mela’, via which Rs 2500 was transferred to each of the 7,21,485 bank accounts of Tea Garden workers across 752 estates spread over 26 districts of Assam. This cost the government Rs 182 crore.

"The state government approved release of Phase-II of the scheme. All beneficiaries covered during the Phase-I will receive the second part of Rs 2,500 in their bank accounts on January 15, 2019," state’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters at a press conference.

Sarma expressed his satisfaction over the fact that around seven lakh of those accounts were still active.

The state government also decided that if for any reason some beneficiaries were left out of Phase-I, it will release at Rs 5000 under phase-II.

The state government also decided to sanction Rs 5000 each to Tea garden workers who were not part of the original list of the beneficiaries (i.e Phase-I), but were later found to be eligible as per the scheme guidelines.

The tea garden workers who opened accounts before demonetisation but due to multitude of reasons were left out of the Phase-I, would also be paid Rs 5000 by the government.

Assam has a total of 792 tea gardens, out of which 685 falls in the Brahmaputra valley and the remaining 107 are located in the Barak Valley.

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