Dolaguri Tea Estate at Letekujan of Golaghat has become the first tea garden of Assam to have an ATM installed by the State Bank of India (SBI) on Monday. This development comes after Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s appeal to the banks to help tea labourers in opening bank accounts.
The ATM will also have full-fledged model account opening facilities, which will help the labourers withdraw and deposit money inside the garden itself, with both biometric machine and cash at POS system being available.
The workers, who are happy to have `progressed’ with the opening of bank accounts, are still sceptical about how fast they will have cash in hand from the bank. For nearly 200 years, they have been getting their wages on Saturday, visiting the local haat for essential commodities the next morning and reporting to work at 5am on Monday.
Tea Gardens come under purview of ATM
The Chief General Manager of SBI, PVSNL Murty , sa id, ‘We have developed an Assam model. All banks will open ATMs in tea gardens where there is a sizeable population. Banks will also introduce lobby ATMs through customer service providers and banking correspondents. The space for ATMs will be provided by respective tea gardens. There will also be point-of-sale swipe machines.’
He added that special camps are being conducted in tea gardens to open bank accounts for the workers. Tea leader Bhagirath Karan said, ‘We are happy that every worker will have a bank account. But what next? When ATMs in Guwahati don’t have cash, how do you expect ATMs in remote tea gardens to function? And where are the ATMs in the first place? The Moinabarie Tea Estate has 5,000 workers. Just imagine the number of ATMs this garden should have to serve every worker who will need cash in hand on Saturday itself so that she can buy food the next day.’