Tamil Nadu

National Commission for Women proposes study on plantation labour

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UPASI calls for restructuring of plantation industry

National Commission for Women (NCW) plans to set up a joint research team to undertake a study on plantation labour. Lalitha Kumaramangalam, chairperson, NCW, said this while she addressed the planters at the 122{+n}{+d}Annual Conference of United Planters Association of South India (UPASI) in Coonoor on Thursday.

Ms. Lalitha Kumaramangalam pointed out that a study on the conditions of the planters was done way back in 1969 and it was time to undertake a fresh one.

She added that the NCW will talk to the Ministry of Labour as the subject came under its purview.

Vijayan Rajes, the outgoing President of UPASI, called for a holistic restructuring of the plantation industry.

Otherwise, he warned, India would become a net importer of plantation commodities.

Delivering the presidential address, he said that the sector is governed by 24 different legislations by both the Union and State Governments and as many as 16 different commercial taxes are payable to the union and state governments and local panchayats.

Legislations

Social welfare legislations were enacted as early as 1950 to regulate wages, improve living conditions, introduce sanitation, water supply, provide health care, etc.

“Those legislations came in when local self-governance was not there. After local governments came in and laws were enacted in 1992, such social costs were not shifted to the local bodies that levy taxes for such services”, he pointed out.

This has rendered the Indian plantation industry uncompetitive in the export arena.

This historical anomaly must be corrected immediately, else the survival of the plantations will be at stake,” Rajes said.

He added, “ The industry is being levied Agricultural Income Tax (AIT) by both the Centre and the State.

“Companies in Kerala and Karnataka pay 50 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively, as AIT in addition to central income tax. And in Kerala, Rs 700 per yielding hectare is levied as Plantation Tax.”

He termed Indian taxation as punitive towards plantations and urged the Government to revisit the archaic commodity Acts and restructure it.

“Excessive multiple taxes should be rationalised and finetuned to suit the realities of modern times. Short-term and short-sighted policies on land, taxes, duties and bureaucratic delay have no role in global free trade arena,” he said.

Rajes also stressed the need for sanctioning of funds for tea and coffee research, as these have been pending with the Ministry of Commerce for quite a while now.

He said that the industry was ready to work in tandem with the Government.

Ms.Lalitha Kumaramangalam’s observation on the condition of plantation labour came close on the heels of the plantation labour unrest in Munnar in Kerala.

Discussion

“I cannot promise a solution to the issue, but I will facilitate discussion with the plantation workers to hammer out a solution. I can make a comment only after I hear them”, she told newsmen while answering a query on the demands of the plantation workers for a wage of Rs 500 per day.

The study will have suggestions for improving the relations between plantation owners and workers,” she added.

External agency

NCW will involve an external agency such as a university or research institute after discussing with the Labour and Commerce ministry. While it would take another 2 – 3 months to assign the work, Ms.Lalitha Kumaramangalam is expecting the agency to release the data within a year of assigning the task.

New office-bearers

N. Dharmaraj, chief executive and whole time director of Harrisons Malayalam, has been elected president of the United Planters’ Association of Southern India for 2015-16.

He was a member of the Tea Board of India and is currently a member of Tea Council of South India, constituted by the Tea Board.

D. Vinod Sivappa, former chairman of Karnataka Planters’ Association, and who was on the committees of Codagu Planters’ Association, has been elected vice-president of the association.



‘The sector is governed by 24 different legislations by both the Union and State Governments’



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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 3:17:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/national-commission-for-women-proposes-study-on-plantation-labour/article7690904.ece

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