Assam CM distributes ₹12.96 crore compensation to Doloo tea garden workers
The area, which was part of a functioning tea garden, was cleared in May this year, and according to the owners of the tea garden, over 3 million tea plants were uprooted in the process
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday distributed ₹100,000 each to 1,296 families living in the Doloo tea garden in Cachar district as gratitude for supporting the government in acquiring land for a proposed Greenfield airport.
The state government acquired over 325 hectares of land from the tea garden for the airport to boost connectivity in the landlocked Barak Valley.
The area, which was part of a functioning tea garden, was cleared in May this year, and according to the owners of the tea garden, over 3 million tea plants were uprooted in the process.
Later, Sarma announced the compensation for each family and according to the state government, there are 1,263 families of permanent workers.
On Tuesday, state government officials said that they have included families of 33 casual workers in the list of beneficiaries.
However, when the cheque distribution began around 4:30 pm, female workers started protesting in front of the chief minister and other officials.
“We don’t want money...the tea plants were like our children... We can’t take compensation over their killings. If possible, give back our land, we’ll grow the plants again,” one protestor said.
Sarma assured them that the state government will provide them additional benefits from various schemes, but didn’t respond to their request on returning the land.
He also said that this is not common that a government has provided compensation while acquiring land for big projects. “Doloo is close to my heart and I am happy to hand over this amount. We don’t compensate in such cases generally,” he said.
Responding to an RTI query by Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev, union civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia in June this year revealed that the ministry had not received no such proposal for the construction of any Greenfield airport in Doloo. Sarma later informed that they were in the process of drafting the proposal.
Before reaching the tea garden on Tuesday, Sarma said that they have completed the initial work and the aviation ministry will accept their proposal soon.
Barak Valley faces is prone to landslides and has poor road connectivity. The only existing airport in Cachar is a defence facility which is decades old.
Though people supported the idea of constructing an airport, some believe that the government should have selected land elsewhere instead of using a functional tea garden.