GUWAHATI: The fear arising out of the impending arrival of migrant workers is a reason why the tea gardens in Assam continued to function with 50 per cent workforce.
The government had on May 8 said, "Operations in tea industry will start in full strength maintaining social distancing norms." Assam has over 800 tea gardens with a workforce of around 10 lakh.
Nazrana Ahmed, chairperson of Assam Tea Planters' Association, told The New Indian Express that the government has allowed 100 per cent workforce subject to social distancing being maintained. It has to be monitored by the management of tea gardens, she said.
“But every garden is awaiting directions from the district authorities. Earlier, the government allowed farm activities but the farmers had to wait for directions from district authorities. We are doing the same thing,” Ahmed said.
She said they were apprehensive of the arrival of the migrant workers.
"The gardens are in the green zones. We are apprehensive as the trains will soon start arriving with the migrant workers. If they are not properly screened or quarantined, it could become a huge issue. Nobody is sure about the health status of these people," she added.
A section of migrant workers is from the tea garden community.
Tea planter Bidyananda Barkakoty, who is the advisor to North Eastern Tea Association, said about 65 per cent of the total workforce was engaged in plucking activity by maintaining social distancing.