BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday announced a Rs 200 crore package for kendu leaf pluckers and other associated workers. The package will benefit around nine lakh people mostly in western Odisha districts.
With this, Naveen has fulfilled several promises made by him for the kendu leaf workers during the Padampur bypoll in 2022. While 80 per cent of these beneficiaries are women, 95 per cent belong to SC, ST and OBC.
The state government has also waived state portion of the GST on kendu leaf. While it had consistently demanded waiver of GST on kendu leaf, the chief minister had also taken up the issue with the Centre several times but the latter reportedly did not respond.
Besides, every family of kendu leaf plucker will get financial assistance of Rs 25,000 each for marrying off two daughters in the family from the beginning of the season in April. The package includes 50 pc bonus for kendu leaf pluckers in this crop season which is double than last year. The bonus money will be directly deposited in the accounts of the pluckers. Similarly, 10 pc incentive has been announced for kendu leaf binders and seasonal workers. The seasonal workers can work for one more month.
Naveen also announced increase in the price of kendu leaf bundle. The price of a 20 kendu leaf bundle has been raised from Rs 1.4 to Rs 1.6. Similarly, a bundle with 40 kendu leaf will have a price of Rs 3.2 instead of Rs 2.8. The state government has also accepted the demand for amendment of emoluments of seasonal workers.
The TA and cycle allowance of seasonal workers have been increased by 50 pc. Besides, the kendu leaf pluckers can now be included under the social security schemes till they attain 62 years of age.
The decisions were announced by 5T chairman VK Pandian on behalf of the chief minister while addressing kendu leaf pluckers and binders at Charmal in Raikhol tehsil of Sambalpur district. He played a video of the chief minister’s announcement at the meeting.
The 5T chairman said the state government spends more money on the welfare of the kendu leaf workers and their families than what is raised from this trade. Stating that bonus for kendu leaf pluckers has been doubled from 25 pc to 50 pc, he said the government will spend Rs 98 crore.