Memorandum submitted to PM, MoEF, CM by BARAK UPOTYOKA SANGRAMI JOTE

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(Barak Valley Struggling Alliance)
Ref :                                                                                                                           Date : 29-02-2012


The Hon'ble Prime Minister
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Through The Deputy Commissioner,Cachar, Assan

Sub : Memorandum.


We, on behalf of the various constituent social organisations of ‘Barak Valley Struggling Alliance, would like to bring to your kind notice the following facts and the demand thereon for your perusal and immediate needful action. 

(1) (A) we demand the tea-wage parity in Barak & Brahmaputra Valley.
Bypassing the negotiation process initiated at the behest of State Labor Comissioner, the recent hike in Barak Valley tea-workers’ wage which has been declared through an unilateral agreement reached between a union and the tea owner’s association is in no way an upward movement of the wages to minimise the prevailing disparity, and it’s an arithmatical jugglery to hoodwink the people. Because in the year 2014, as per the agreement, when the wage of Barak Valley tea workers will reach to Rs75, the wage of Brahmaputra Valley workers will move to much higher level from the present and already enhanced wage of Rs. 76. Moreover, the tea-workers in West Bengal are also getting much higher wages than their counterpart in Assm against the same nature of work. This is gross violation of the principle of equal wages for equal work and these anomalies should be eradicated forthwith by maintaining parity in wages at least within Assam and a broad framework on task needs to be formulated.
(B) when the MGNREGA-workers who are considered as unskilled rural manual workers are getting the daily wage of Rs.130/worker, the present daily wage of tea-worker of Barak Valley vis-à-vis Assam is too meager to maintain the livelihood. So the daily wage of tea-workers should be enhanced to at least the level of MGNREGA-wage.
(C) the 15th Indian Labour Conference held in 1957 stipulated that the need based minimum wage for all industrial workers should be calculated covering the food and living requirements of three units consumption. Under this guideline and in view of the present consumer price index (CPI), the tea-worker’s wage will be much more than the double of the existing wage. The resistance of the employer’s associations to consider 1.5 units instead of 3 units in case of calculating the tea-worker’s wage on the ground that the engagement of both male & female workers implies two earners in the family is absolutely unfounded & baseless. There are ample evidences contrary to their claim. Moreover, as the existing wage is much less than the half of need based minimum wage that would have been determined by the Wage Board under the guideline enshrined in the declaration of Indian Labour Conference and the exiting CPI, the workers are extra-economically coerced to accept less than bare minimum wage that would have been the actual wage, if calculated on the basis of the ill-founded logic of the employer’s too.

(2) It is to be noted with utter dismay of all concern that though there was an all India BPL-survey in the year 2007, no field-level BPL-survey has been held after 2002 in Assam. Even BPL-card has not been issued to all those families who are enlisted in 2002 survey. The 2012 BPL survey to prepar the list of BPL families has already been kick-started and in that event, we demand that the survey report must be verified through genuine and effective on-going process of Gramsabhas. Moreover, lot of drama have been orchestrated, lot of APL-BPL manipulation has been designed to hush up easy money, lot of food grains dumped to the houses of well-off having BPL-card, when the destitute failed to have one square meal a day for not having BPL card, and all these amply made it clear that the APL-BPL categorization for PDS system is highly ineffectual and unreliable. As per Arjun Sengupta Commission report, 77% of the population in India falls in the BPL category and the BPL population in this part of country will not be less, if not more, than this estimation. But here, a large number of families do not even have ration-cards, not to speak of BPL cards. For instance, the poorest of the poor slumdwellers in the suburb of Silchar do not have ration cards. Those who have APL/BPL cards in these districts of Barak Valley do get their full entitlements. A huge quantity of ration materials from the entitlements of the consumers is off-loaded from the supply chain of FCI-Coopertive-District Wholesale Agency-dealers, and siphoned off to the market, and this is time and again vindicated by the news of grabbing of unauthorised Tuck loaded with FCI-foodgrains. All the tea-gardens receive the ration-entitlements from the PDS chain in PDS price. But in most of the tea-gardens, the workers’ are getting poor quality and less than the entitled quantity of ration-materials. The inspection regime in the PDS system either utterly failed or disinterested to grab the culprit and to mend the loopholes. With this in view, we demand that
(A)            Universal PDS system should be put in place again to eradicate corruption and to ensure the BPL population to avail subsidized food grain. BPL list should be verified through gramsabhas.
(B) The ration cards should be immediately issued to all the valid applicants.
(C) Thorough and effective inspection, easy consumer complain mechanism at the dealer-end, quick grievance-redressal mechanism need to be put in place.
(D)            Garden-wise Inspection from both the labour (as the ration is wage-in-kind also) and supply department should be done on regular basis.
(E)  District, garden and village level monitoring public committees should be formed at your behest.
(F)  A thorough inquiry with public hearings of all the past misappropriation of PDS materials should be initiated. 

(3)  Though there is a huge mismatch between the official record of the NREGA implementation and the ground reality due to the manipulation of the implementing agency, even the official record shows that the implementation of NREGA is gradually deteriorating especially in Cachar District and dismal in all the three district of Barak Valley. The mechanism of manipulation cab be cited as (i) The mandays of work shown against the Jobcards issued to the well-off families are fictitious and recorded without the actual work done. (ii) employment sought, complaints lodged, unemployment allowance claimed etc are not registered properly and are not reflected in the website-record. (ii) machines are used and jobcard holders are engaged as contractual workers in the NREG-schemes without making any proper entry to the jobcard as well as MR. (iii) Innumerable complaints to the grievance redressal authorities are lying unattended. (iv) Formation of monitoring committes and the social audits are done through  fake Gramsabhas. In addition to the manipulative and corrupt practices, let us put the official record straight to vindicate our claim of dismal performance of the implementing agencies. In 2008-09, Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi recorded 3991, 40, 2 households respectively who were provided with 100 days of work, that recorded in 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 are 751-134-23, 172-245-163, 39-52-0 respectively. None in these three district received any unemployment allowance and many claims of jobcard-holders for unemployment allowance are lying at programme-officer or at other level without being processed to requisition fund from the state Government for payment. Among the three districts of Barak Valley, 2011-12 record shows that Hailakandi district with less population has spent much more fund (though it is also too measly an amount to meet the work demand)  than the other two districts and as such argument of scarcity of fund on the part of the lower bureaucracy is baseless and smacks of inefficiency or inertia syndrome of the implementing agencies, as the sanction of schemes and fund flow are the on-going process basing on demand. This fact-sheets speak volumes about the dismal performance and the insensitivity of the implementing agencies. Moreover, we are of the opinion that the rural people need 200 days of work and the guaranteed minimum wage to the tune of at least Rs. 200 considering the existing CPI.
With this in view, we demand that
(A)            The total days of work and wage should be enhanced to 200 days and Rs 200.
(B) The present stipulated 100 days of work must be ensured to all the job-seekers.
(C) Claim of un-employment allowance should be settled forthwith.
(D)            In addition to the Ombudsman, a district level committee comprising of the representatives from NREG-workrs’ union, social organisation, experts should be formed forthwith in consonance with the provision of the act and at the behest of the program co-ordinator  to monitor the NREGA-work and social audit.
(E)  Word level gramsabhas and social audit should be done on regular basis and with full transparency.
(F)  Block level physical audit must be intiated at the behest of programme officer taking into the complainant union/organisation into confidence.

(4) With deep anguish, we have observed that during recent days, lots of hue and cry are being registered, all opposing the construction of a 'water bomb' at Tipaimukh. A handful of protests have been witnessed in Manipur, Mizoram, Barak Valley of Assam, besides lot many from our neighbouring country, Bangladesh. We look at all these protests from the environmental and human point of view, sincerely believe that any force, that lacks in feeling for the environmental impact of the proposed dams should be dealt with severely. We sincerely like to draw your kind attention on the facts mentioned hereunder;
(A)    We sincerely believe that there should be an extensive downstream environmental impact study from the proposed dams site up to sea-mouth should be jointly conducted at the initiative of the Government of India and Bangladesh where experts from Non Government Organisations particularly from the environmental outfits, IITs and Universities must be included to asses the possible detrimental impact on the environment and life of inhabitants in the catchments areas at large. Without downstream impact study, if a clean-cheat to the projects are given it would be detrimental for both environment and people at large and struggling outfits of both in India and Bangladesh in particular. It is to be mentioned here that an expert committee was constituted to study the impact of big dams in Bramhaputra Valley alone, we are here like to request you Sir to form similar study team for investigating cumulative down stream impact in Barak Valley too.
(B)    the proposed dams fall at the confluence of Indo-Burma, Indo-Malayan and Indo-Chinese Biodiversity hotspot zone. These areas are characterised by the presence of a large number plant and animal species, many of which are not seen or seldom witnessed in rest part of the world. A large number of them have been categorised as endangered and threatened as the IUCN Red Data book and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Once the dam is constructed, these innocent endangered and threatened species would have no other alternative, but to perish! Moreover many of the tribal people including Hmar, Naga, Kuki, Manipuri and others those who have been living there for generations will have to leave the place for ever. Under such a situation, does the construction of a dam in the proposed site speak quite well in favour of Biodiversity conservation?
(C)     We strongly believe and observe with deep concern that this rock filled 500 mts. long and 162.8 mt. high Tipaimukh dam to be constructed at the earthquake zone-V, Wherein there will be constant pressure of water, if for any reason cracks, the entire civilization of the whole of downstream will be washed down in no time. The age old Barak-Surma culture will live in history only. Can any force or technology prevent this and ensure against such catastrophic mishap?
(D)    Besides the above mentioned burning issues, other important impact like water scarcity, crop cultivation, navigation, siltation, ecological imbalance, river pollution, extinction of aquatic life forms and the like are never the less important frontier areas that deserve careful and serious attention, before construction of the dam.

                                                                                 Thanking You
     Yours faithfully
Signed By:-
  • Pijush Kanti Das, Committee on People's and Environment (COPE)
  • Nirmal Kr. Das, Asom Majuri Sramik Union
  • Sankar Dey, Barak Nagarik sangsad
  • Sanathoi Devi, All Assam Meira Paibi
  • Biplab Kr Goswami, Grahak Suraksa Samiti
  • Dilip Kr Singh, Hindi Bhasi Chatra Parisad
  • Pumeba Ai, Rajbangshi Samiti
  • Sahidul Haque Laskar, Kisan Bikhash Samiti,Ashu Kanti Sinha, AIDSO
  • Ranu Dautta, Barak Juba Sangsad
  • Neharul Alam Mazumder, Barak Human Right's Protection Committee
  • Rukhan Uddin Barbhuiya, KMSS 
  • S. Herajit Singh, AAMSU

Pijush Kanti Das;Pijush Das <> 
Secretary General;COPE
+91 9435522796
+91 9864372750


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