Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday distributed assistance to the tune of Rs 43 crore to kendu leaf pluckers, binders and seasonal employees and demanded complete withdrawal of GST on collection of the leaf. The assistance was disbursed by Naveen at a special function as per a special package announced by him for 8 lakh kendu leaf pluckers and other seasonal staff associated with the activity four days ago.
An amount of Rs 43 lakh was transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries through DBT. “Happiness of the poor gives me joy. I have always been with the poor people and I will continue to endeavour for their welfare,” Naveen said on the occasion. According to the special package, Rs 1,000 was given to each kendu leaf plucker and Rs 1,500 to each seasonal staff and binder in the first phase as an interim measure.
The Chief Minister said that the beneficiaries of the package in Bargarh district will get the assistance after the model code of conduct which is in force for Padampur bypoll is lifted. Describing kendu leaf as the major source of livelihood for poor people, Naveen reiterated his demand for complete withdrawal of 18% GST by the Centre on kendu leaf business.
Beneficiaries of Nuapada, Kalahandi, Koraput, Nabarangpur, Angul, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Kandhamal, Boudh, Keonjhar, Deogarh and Balangir districts received the assistance on Sunday. Speaking on the occasion, Forest and Environment Minister Pradip Amat highlighted the steps taken by the state government for the welfare of kendu leaf pluckers and other staff associated with the trade.
The Chief Minister discussed with Shantanu Kumar Bhoi from Balangir, Pushpalata Bhainsa of Jharsuguda and Ishwar Sabar of Nuapada about the financial package. The beneficiaries thanked Naveen for the assistance. Kendu leaf is used to wrap bidis and is one of the most important non-wood forest products in the state.