A large number of laborers in Assam's tea gardens are suffering from under nutrition and infectious diseases, according to a survey.
The state, number one producer of tea in the country has most of its workers facing health problems says a survey conducted by the Regional Medical Research Center, NE Region of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The survey was undertaken by the council to overcome scarcity of reliable information on the tea garden population's health problems and nutritional status.
The survey points out that nutritional problems like underweight children--59.9 per cent, thinness among adults--89.9 per cent and micronutrient deficiency disorders like anemia--72 per cent were widespread.
Common infectious diseases were worm infestation (65.4 per cent), respiratory problems (6.7 per cent), diarrhea (1.7 per cent), skin infection, filariasis and pulmonary tuberculosis.
The study also registered prevalence of Non-Communicable diseases like hypertension (45.9 per cent), senile cataract (25.3 per cent), epilepsy and back pain.
Existence of Vitamin A and B-complex deficiency disorder among children was comparable to lower socio-economic groups in the state while extent of anemia was found to be higher in comparison to other states of the country.
Only last month there were reports of as many as 100 starvation deaths in a closed tea garden in West Bengal. After a visit Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi remarked, "It is shocking to find people dying of starvation in a progressive country like India. I had come to know about the fact from newspapers. I saw it with my own eyes after my visit to this garden. It has left me disheartened."
The workers had then poured out all their problems to him - scarce drinking water, no access to medical aid or relief funds and no work - to the Governor.
He then instructed the administrative officials at the garden to arrange for the aid the workers are supposed to get. He also wanted them to ensure drinking water supply for the workers. The district chief medical officer of health was asked to pay special attention to the health of the workers of the closed and abandoned tea gardens. Only after the workers said they were happy with the steps taken did the Governor leave the garden.