Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has handed over cheques of ₹1 lakh each to 1,296 families residing at Cachar district's Doloo Tea Estate, which got mired in controversies earlier in the year over land acquisition for a greenfield airport.
According to a statement from the Chief Minister's office, the cheques were distributed at a function in Silchar on Tuesday evening (November 29.)
Mr. Sarma, during the programme, gave assurance that his government would also provide financial assistance to the tune of ₹1 lakh each to the casual employees of Doloo Tea Estate.
"Welfare of people living in tea garden areas has been one of the priorities of my government, which is working for the socio-cultural-economic and academic development of the garden areas," he stated.
The CM also said that his government would appoint adequate number of teachers at the estate's school to ensure academic empowerment of the children there.
He exhorted the families living in tea gardens to "make good use" of the quota earmarked for their children in medical colleges, as education is the “most important tool for human resource development”.
Mr. Sarma said his government was working on a plan to provide free electricity to tea garden areas across the State.
"Moreover, poor families in Doloo Tea Estate will be included in Orunodoi beneficiaries' list. Once included, each family will be entitled to monthly financial aid of ₹1,250," he added.
Talking about the proposed project at the estate, the Chief Minister said, "Airports are a harbinger of economic prosperity of a region. The proposed airport at Doloo will usher in unprecedented economic development of the Barak valley region."
He stated that since the one existing at Kumbhirgram is a defence airport, expansion of the facility to accommodate the increasing demands of air traffic is not possible.
"The airport at Doloo, besides meeting the enhanced customer demand, will bring about economic growth for the people," Mr. Sarma said.
Earlier this year, a controversy had arisen over the Assam government's efforts to acquire land for setting up a greenfield airport with Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia claiming that no such proposal was received for the facility from the BJP-led State.
However, it was established later that the State was acquiring the 2,500 bighas (826.45 acres) of land in Cachar district on request of central PSU Airports Authority of India.
Land acquisition efforts at Doloo Tea Estate had led to protests by tea garden workers, but the government had then assured them that no worker would face eviction or job loss.
The Assam Cabinet recently decided to pay ₹1 lakh each to the families living in the tea garden, as a goodwill gesture for cooperating with the government as it takes steps to build the airport.