Agri Business

Tea estates urge banks to keep adequate cash

PS SUNDAR Coonoor | Updated on January 16, 2018

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Tea planters, small growers and traders have asked banks to keep adequate stock for timely payment given the nationwide cash crunch.

“Most estates pay wages to workers on the seventh and some on the 10th of each month. Hitherto, we have been paying wages by cash. Now, we are liaising with banks to open savings bank accounts for all workers. There are some 60,000 estate workers in the Nilgiris,” K Rajmohan, Vice-Chairman, The Nilgiri Planters’ Association, told BusinessLine.

“Managements are ready to credit the wages in their accounts on December 7 or 10 as applicable but banks are yet to complete the task of opening the accounts,” he added.

“Many companies had already opened accounts for their workers for Provident Fund purposes and so, crediting wages to these accounts now will not be a problem. But, banks must ensure that they have enough cash to pay workers,” he said.

“We are also liaising with banks to open their ATMs inside estates or in close proximity to estate clusters,” he said. The association is concerned that workers will have to wait in queues for days together at banks or ATMs in distant places, affecting plantation work.

Glendale Estate, near Coonoor, belonging to Glenworth Estate Ltd, was a pioneer in introducing ATM cards for workers some seven years ago but there is no ATM booth inside the estate.

“Bought-leaf factories have also asked workers to open savings bank accounts as they have discontinued the practice of paying wages in cash. But, factories find it difficult to manage with ₹50,000 per week for their current accounts and have asked for ₹1 lakh withdrawal facility,” said Ramesh Bhojarajan, Chairman, Coonoor Tea Trade Association.

“Bought leaf factories need anywhere from ₹5-10 lakh per week to pay for the green leaf they purchase,” he said.

“Small growers are in a quandary because of the low crop reducing their earnings. Now, banks are refusing to pay the price for the green leaf deposited into their accounts by bought-leaf factories. We have also asked to raise the withdrawal limit to ₹50,000 per week from the present ₹24,000,” said H Thiagarajan, President, Nilgiris Small Tea Growers’ Association.

Published on December 01, 2016

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