In a unique move to bring the poorest of the poor tribals who collect Kendu leaves for survival, the state government has prepared an elaborate social security scheme for them.
This is for the first time when such a scheme has been prepared. The erstwhile Left Front government which had shed crocodile tears for them for over three decades did not take any positive move only for the tribals to languish and face abject poverty.
The collectors come from West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia. The scheme is called the West Bengal Kendu leave Collectors’ Social Security Scheme. So far 30,000 kundu leaves collectors have registered themelves under the scheme and they will soon be given their identity cards.
Chudamani Mahato, MLA, Gopiballavpur is the chairman of the executive committee. Birsa Tirkey, member, Tribes Advisory Council is the vice chairman. The managing director, West Bengal Tribal Development Cooperative Cooperation Limited is the Chief Executive Officer and convener of the committee. The other members are the chairman of West Bengal Tribal Development Cooperative Cooperation Limited, an officer of the Tribal Development department not below the rank of a joint secretary, three members from the large sized multipurpose cooperative society (LAMPS) and anyone who may be considered by the government.
The committee will manage the fund earmarked for the scheme and submit annual budget to the government for approval. A Kendu leaves collector willing to join the scheme will have to apply to the registration officer through a specified form.
Each Kendu leaves collector who joins the scheme will be given an identity card containing full name of the beneficiary and other particulars like age, date of registration etc. A lump sum amount of financial assistance shall be allowed to a beneficiary who has been registered under the scheme for a period of not less than two years and has attended 60 years of age. The collectors from two years and above and up to 5 years will get Rs 50,000. Then from above five years up to 10 years will get Rs 1 lakh and above 10 years will get Rs 1.50 lakh.
The next of kin of a beneficiary who will die because of accident will get Rs 1.50 lakh and in case of normal death, they will get Rs 50,000. Financial assistance will also be given to a beneficiary facing permanent or partial disability due to any accident. In case of loss of one hand from elbow or loss of one leg below the knee or loss of one eye or loss of hearing capacity in one ear , a kendu leaves collector will get Rs 25,000. While for losing a thumb the amount is Rs 9000 and for the loss of any other finger it will be Rs 4,000.
Also, a sum of Rs 6000 will be given in case of maternity benefit while Rs 3000 will be given for funeral expense of a member.