Note Ban Deadline Ends, Ordeal Of Assam's Tea Garden Workers Continue

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Even after the notes ban deadline tea gardens in Assam are still feeling the impact of demonetisation.


Guwahati, Assam:  Even as the government's deadline for exchanging old Rs 500 and 1,000 notes comes to an end, the tea gardens in Assam are still feeling the impact of demonetisation. At the Dherai Tea Estate in Sonitpur district, some 200 kilometres away from Guwahati, tea garden workers tell us how they have coped up with demonetisation ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the notes ban on November 8.

"When we read about the notes ban, we were terrified and even the management was worried. In the first week of demonetisation we even did not get paid, money came in the next week. A meeting was called in the garden and it was decided that payment will smoothen. We had actually stopped working. We resumed working only after we were assured," says Moyna Tanti, a tea garden worker for 15 years at Dherai.

She added that they had faced a lot of problem due to notes ban. Many of them did not have a single penny left, they did not have food grains and had to buy essential items on credit and some even had to take loans while many even sustained themselves through barter deals.

"Only half of our workers have got debit card and the rest are yet to receive. We are not happy; the new system is much of botheration for us. Here we cannot even remember the four digits ATM pin, how do you expect us to do cashless banking trough smart phones. Who are educated in the gardens can only handle this but only few are educated," Ms Tanti added.

So when NDTV asked "last week mobile ATM came here, did you people not like this initiative?"

Moyna Tanti said, "That has created more troubles for us. We are hesitant for using ATM cards. They have been asking us to do mobile banking. We earn around Rs 1,500 a week, with that money we will buy essentials or a smart phone?"

In a surprise move, the government had announced notes ban on November 8 to help flush out black or unaccounted money. The move had taken 86 per cent of money out of circulation, causing a cash crunch. The opposition has attacked the government's implementation of the notes ban, alleging that it punishes the poor rather than the corrupt.


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