Tendu leaf collectors to get paid in cash in Naxal-hit areas

Raipur, Jun 29 (PTI) The Chhattisgarh government on Monday decided to make cash payments to people engaged in collecting tendu leaves in Naxal-hit Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur forest divisions in the Bastar region, officials here said.

On Monday, thousands of tribals staged a protest in Bijapur town demanding cash payments against collection of tendu leaves, which are used to wrap bidis.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel gave permission to make cash payments to tendu leaf collectors in the three forest divisions after Commerce and Industry Minister Kawasi Lakhma made a request in this regard, a government spokesperson said.

In a letter to the chief minister, Lakhma said public representatives from Naxal-hit Sukma, Dantewada and Bijapur districts have demanded release of payments of collectors of tendu leaves in cash to avoid inconvenience to them, he said.

There is a provision for direct payment in bank accounts against collection of tendu leaves However, several people in these areas do not have Aadhaar, PAN card or bank accounts which causes unnecessary trouble to them.

'These are sensitive areas where distance between banks and interior villages in some cases is about 70 to 80 km, the official said, quoting from the letter.

Considering the request, the chief minister has cancelled the order of making payments through bank accounts in these areas and allowed to provide cash, the officials said.

Notably, around 2,000 villagers from the Gangaloor area of Bijapur district reached Bijapur town on foot on Monday in support of their demand for cash payment against collection of tendu leaves, a major source of livelihood for local residents. PTI TKP RSY RSY