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Assam govt to offer VRS to 612 staff of defunct ASAMB

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GUWAHATI, July 11: The Assam government has decided to offer voluntary retirement to 612 employees of the already defunct Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB).

This decision aims to manage the workforce and streamline the operations following the board’s cessation.

The ASAMB has been defunct since the introduction of the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020.

This Act prohibited state governments from levying any market fee, cess, or levy on farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms for the trade of farmers’ produce conducted in an ‘outside trade area’. As a result, the functions and relevance of ASAMB were significantly reduced, leading to its cessation.

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Even though the ASAMB began supplying fertilizers to a few tea gardens, this initiative was not sufficient to compensate for the financial losses incurred. The primary role of ASAMB was significantly diminished following the introduction of the farm law, which prevented the collection of market fees and other charges from farmers, traders, and electronic trading platforms outside the designated trade areas.

The employees of the ASAMB have not received their salaries for over two years.

In an effort to assist these employees, the Assam Cabinet approved a financial settlement scheme on July 10. This scheme aims to provide a resolution for the unpaid salaries and other financial dues of the 612 employees of the defunct board.

According to a cabinet note, 612 regular employees of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB) will be offered a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS). Additionally, a one-time settlement/gratuity payment will be provided to 147 contingency/fixed pay employees.

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As part of the financial settlement scheme for the employees of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB), the state government will provide an additional 10% on top of the settlement amount as a goodwill gesture. The total fund allocated for this entire exercise is Rs 154 crore, which will be fully borne by the state government.

According to the one-time settlement/gratuity payment plan for the employees of the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB), the following amounts will be disbursed Rs 5 lakh will be given to each of the 131 employees who have rendered 10 years of service or less and Rs 1.75 lakh will be paid to 16 fixed pay employees who have rendered 10 years of service or less.

Rs 5.5 lakh will be paid to each of 131 employees who have rendered more than 10 years and upto 15 years of service, Rs 1.93 lakh to each of 16 employees who have rendered more than 10 years and upto 15 years of service

Rs 6 lakh will be paid to 131 employees who have rendered more than 15 years of service, Rs 2.10 lakh will be paid to 16 employees who have rendered more than 15 years of service.

The state government’s decision to offer a VRS to the employees of the ASAMB has raised serious concerns among various sections of the people.

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Mowsam Hazarika, former director, Assam Seed and Organic Certification Agency & Retired Joint Director of Agriculture , Assam raised a crucial concern about the government’s decision to offer a VRS to ASAMB employees.

He highlighted the pressing issue of how the government plans to ensure effective marketing of agricultural commodities for farmers in the absence of a functional agricultural marketing board.

Hazarika emphasized the critical need for robust mechanisms to safeguard farmers’ interests amidst any restructuring or downsizing plan affecting agricultural marketing in Assam.

He said that farmers frequently face challenges in securing fair market prices for their produce due to various unfortunate reasons.

Also Read: Tripura registers 1,500 new HIV and AIDS cases every year

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