Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Saturday announced a slew of benefits amounting to Rs 87.50 crore for around 8.35 lakh kendu leaf workers who are facing a rough phase due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The beneficiaries include about eight lakh pluckers, who are the poorest of the poor and mostly women, about 17,500 binders and over 17,500 seasonal staff, an official statement said.
As a special incentive, a bonus of 25 per cent will be given to over 7.89 lakh registered kendu leaf pluckers in view of their plight during the nationwide lockdown fuelled by coronavirus outbreak. The total amount will be to the tune of Rs 27.25 crore, it said.
The government also enhanced the price of each kendu leaf bundle (comprising 20 leaves) by 20 per cent, from Re 1 to Rs 1.20 during 2020 kendu leaf crop year.
“This will result in additional benefit of about Rs 32 crore to around eight lakh pluckers in the state,” it said. Similarly, an incentive of five per cent of wages will be given to 17,345 registered kendu leaf binders involving a total amount of Rs 1.26 crore.
The government also announced incentive for 17,444 unorganised seasonal staff who will get additional five per cent of their wages which will entail a total amount of Rs 2.82 crore.
This apart, the state government has decided to provide Rs 200 to each plucker for purchasing water bottles, it said, adding that an amount of Rs 15.77 crore will be spent for the purpose.
The financial assistance being provided by the government will be credited to the bank account of the kendu leaf pluckers through the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme.