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17 Dec 2016

Tea cash proposal

TT, Siliguri, Dec. 16: The state and the RBI have said the tea industry should be allowed to pay workers' wages in cash till January 31 next year, the secretary general of the Tea Association of India said after a meeting at Nabanna today.
"The issue of tea wage payment was elaborately discussed at the meeting, along with other issues like opening of bank accounts of tea workers and Internet connectivity in estates. It was asserted by top officials of the state and the RBI that the tea industry in our state needed to be allowed to pay wages in cash till January end," Prabir Bhattacharjee, secretary general of the Tea Association of India, told The Telegraph over phone from Calcutta this evening.
"Although no formal directive or instruction has been issued yet, we expect that when discussions were held at such high levels and all those present assented to it, the problem that was bothering us has been taken care of, at least for an interim period," he added.
Tea planters, who had paid two fortnights' wages to workers according to the procedure mentioned by the RBI on November 21, were worried about making further payments. "It was mentioned by the RBI that payments of only two fortnights could be made in cash and after that, wages should be transferred to the bank accounts of tea workers," a senior planter based in Siliguri said.
Wages of a fortnight are due in most gardens and bank accounts of all workers associated with the tea industry are yet to be opened.
Today, secretaries of different government departments, including the chief secretary, regional director of the RBI based in Calcutta, representatives of banks and tea planters' associations attended the meeting. Sources said district magistrates of all five tea-producing districts - North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar - attended the meeting via video conferencing.

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