Kendu leaf pluckers deprived of wages

Malkangiri: More than 50,000 kendu leaf pluckers of this district had a tough time receiving their bonus from banks thanks to demonetisation, a report said. 

Though leaf collectors have been frequenting the branches, they do not get the money due to cash crunch, alleged some women kendu leaf pluckers of Ghatra Shikhpali panchayat in this district.

According to reports, people of several tribal villages like Matapeka, Koyagiri, Nandibeda, Katamateru and Niliguda have been treading 30 km in the hilly terrain for seven days to reach a branch of Utkal Gramya Bank (UGB) in MV-17 village to get bonus money which has been deposited by the state government in their accounts. But, they have to return empty-handed due to shortage of cash in the branch.

Resentment brewed among account holders as they have to skip their jobs of collecting mahua flowers and kendu leaves to come to a bank but fail to get their hard-earned money.
“We were asked by officials to open bank accounts so that we can get our wages as and when they require them. However, such arrangements are of no use for us,” said an angry woman who failed to draw her payment.
The branch manager of the bank couldn’t be contacted as he had gone to Malkangiri to bring in cash, it was learnt.

It becomes difficult for them to make cash payments to the workers due to shortage of cash in Malkangiri branch of the State Bank of India, said a UGB staffer.
It is not only about this branch, the beneficiaries have been facing similar problems in branches of all other banks in this district, a report said.

Thousands of beneficiaries of several government schemes had opened ‘zero’ balance accounts to get out of their payment hassles. But bank accounts seem to have turned out to be a nightmare for the workers.

While bank authorities indirectly admitted that release of less liquidity by Reserve Bank of India to the banks in this district has led to this problem, workers and leaf pluckers demanded immediate release of cash from their deposits.  PNN

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