Bhubaneswar: Keeping in view the welfare of kendu pluckers and other employees, the State Government has announced Special Package for them.
And echoing their demand Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has demanded complete withdrawal of GST on the collection of the leaf.
The package was announced a day after the Governing BJD blamed the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre over imposition of 18 per cent GST on kendu leaf trade.
CM Mr.Patnaik said the Special Package will benefit around eight lakh pluckers, binders and other seasonal staff associated with the kendu leaf trade.
He pointed out that the Union Government has imposed 18 per cent GST on kendu leaf trade. “I had earlier requested the Central Government to remove it and I am again raising my demand to completely abolish GST from the business”.
CM said that the special package was announced after three rounds of discussion in the past week over various problems faced by the kendu leaf pluckers.
Kendu leaf is used to wrap bidis and is one of the most important non-wood forest products in the state. It is called the green gold of Odisha.
Under the package, Rs 1,000 will be given to each kendu leaf plucker and Rs 1,500 to each seasonal staff and binder in the first phase. All kendu leaf pluckers and employees will be covered under Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana (BSKY), an official release issued by the chief minister’s office said.
Special Package also had provision for stipends for the off-springs of kendu leaf pluckers and other employees. Besides, meritorious students will be awarded at the district level.
The gratuity payment for kendu pluckers of a circle and leaf binders has been revised from seven days to 15 days. All pluckers will be issued identity cards, CM Mr.Patnaik said.
The kendu leaf pluckers belong to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families and the State Government has always been working for their welfare and for other employees in the sector.
“Odisha is the first state in the country to give bonus to kendu leaf pluckers. This policy has become a model for other states,” he said.
BJD Spokesperson Sasmit Patra attacked BJP on Tuesday accusing it of cheating farmers across the country.
“You(BJP) cheated kendu leaf workers who are men and women mostly from the BPL families. When the GST was at five per cent on kendu leaf they had a decent living. But you (BJP) increased it to 18 per cent and impacted their source of earning. Isn’t this cheating?” Dr.Patra said.