Odisha Govt distributes assistance money of Rs 43 crore among Kendu leaf workers

Bhubaneswar: As per a previous announcement made on November 23, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today distributed a total sum of Rs 43 crore towards interim assistance money among the Kendu leaf workers in the State, including pluckers, binders and seasonal workers.

Accordingly, the pluckers received Rs 1,000 each and binders and seasonal workers got Rs 1,500 each through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) mode. The assistance money was distributed by Patnaik in a special programme organised for the purpose, the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said.

Addressing the beneficiaries in virtual mode, the Chief Minister said, “Happiness of poor people is my greatest happiness. I am always with the poor people and my efforts for their welfare will persist.”

However, the Kendu leaf beneficiaries in Bargarh will get the interim assistance money after the Code of Conduct clamped in view of the bypoll to Padmapur Assembly constituency in the district is lifted.

Kendu leaf – a minor forest produce – is a good source of livelihood of poor people. Patnaik has urged the Central government to consider withdrawal of Goods and Services Tax (GST) on Kendu leaves in the State as it is adversely affecting the trade and livelihoods of people dependent on it, Patnaik said.

In a recent letter dated 25.11.2022 and written to Union Finance Minister and Chairperson of GST Council Niramala Sitharaman, the CM requested that the 18 per cent GST on Kendu leaf be rolled back in the greater interest of the State as lakhs of people associated with the trade are being affected, the CM added.

Notably, Kendu leaf workers in at least 17 subdivisions of 12 districts including Nuapada, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Kandhamal, Boudh, Keonjhar, Deogarh and Balangir were given the interim assistance money.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) Minister Pradip Kumar Amat hinted on the steps taken by the government in the interest of Kendu leaf workers. The event was conducted by MoEFCC Additional Chief Secretary Dr Mona Sharma, in presence of Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra and several senior officials of the department.

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