The United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district, which is one of the least urbanized districts of Assam, is not an industrially progressive district. During a period of only fifteen years since its formation in 1951, it cannot be expected to make much headway industrially. Although it did not exist during the time of partition, the impact of disruption created by the partitionof the country did affect its economy to a great extent as it did that of other districts of Assam. Several causes account for the industrial backwardness of the district. The most prominent of all is the fact that the district is very much rural in character mostly inhabited by tribal people practising jhum, and more or less isolated from the rest of Assam due to its geographical location. Poor development of communication affected the normal flow of trade and commerce and natural resources were left unharnessed. These and such other causes make the task of integrated development of the district economy a difficult one. The recent years have however seen some progress and the account given in the following pages would show that, while existing industries have been sought to be developed a number of small scale units have sprung up, though the tempo of progress cannot be taken as at all satisfactory. Tea, coal, and lac constitute the main industries of this district. There are a few scattered saw mills, rice, mills, bakery, carpentry , jewellery work shops and other small scale units but they are not much importance. Most of these small scale industries are owned and run by the Bengali refugees and Marwaris. The district has practically no industrial class.
(a) OLD TIME INDUSTRIES :
Many cottage industries have existed among these tribal people from time immemorial. These old time industries of the people can broadly be divided into the following categories.
Hand loom weaving is a popular and age old industry of almost all the tribes dwelling in the district. It is a monopoly of the woman folk. In almost every house there is a loom but the cotton cloth produced is generally required for home consumption, and is very seldom sold. The looms they use is simple and small. The weavers use the single needle tension or loin loom. The looms used by the Kacharis are bigger in size than those used by other tribes. They resemble those of Assamese country type.
Quantum of handloom products are however very much less than could be expected and there can be little doubt that weaving as an industry is commercially a failure, the price obtained for the finished articles being out of proportion to the time expended on its production. Weaving only occupies the leisure moments of the women , the use of home made clothing helps to save the pocket of the villagers. They produce only limited varieties of cloth viz. the Chaddar, the Mekhala, Languti and rough type of cloth for shirts. The Kukis weave cloths called 'Pal' which are not unlike the 'Khesh' and most of their clothing like that of Karbis and Nagas is home made. A speciality of their is the 'Pari' a kind of rug made of lumps of raw cotton woven into a coarse stout cloth and knitted lightly between the weft. The ordinary pari is about 8/ to 4/ and costs some five rupees. The people are also interested in colour designs. The Karbi women kneew a few designs mostly of diamond pattern. The Kacharis are more prosperous in design scheme and their women know a good number of designs.
Cotton is grown in large quantities by the tribes of the district. The bulk of the products goes out of the district and only a small portion is used for spinning into thread. Hand spinning on ' Taklis' is a popular craft of the Karbis. The Kacharis spin on charkha made by their own hands out of timber and bamboo.
A number of natural dyes are known to the people. generally black is preferred by them. In dyeing yarn they use a kind locally available vegetation.
Eri Silk :
Rearing of Eri Silk worm, spinning of Eri cocoons and weaving of Eri silk cloth is one of the oldest industries of the two tribes namely Karbis and Kacharis. The worm ( attacus ricini ) derives its name from the Eri or castor oil plant (ricinus communis ) on which it is usually fed. Numberof broods hatched in a year is five to six. Those which spin their cocoons in November , February , and May, yield more silk. The females , when they emerge , are tied to pieces of reed, and are visited by the males who are left at liberty. The eggs are hatched in the house and take from a week to fifteen days to mature. As soon as the worms appear, they are placed on a tray, which is suspended in a place of safety , and fed on the leaves of castor oil plant. When fully grown , they are about 3 inches long, of a dirty white or green colour. After the final moulting , the worms are transferred from the tray to forked twigs suspended across a piece of reed and when they are ready to spin , are placed on a bundle of dried plantain leaves or withered branches, which is hung from the roof of the hut. The matrix of the cocoon is very gummy, and the silk, which is of a dirty white colour, has to be spun, not reeled. Before this is done, the cocoons are softened by boiling them in water mixed wit ha solution of alkali. Empty cocoons yield about three quarters of their weight in thread. Cocoon rearing is very popular in the district amongst the local tribal people as they consider the cocoon worm to be a delicious food. So there is a great prospect for sericulture development in the district.
The most useful garments made of Eri silk is the 'Borkapor', a long sheet, some times as much as 20 feet in length with 5 feet width folded and used as a wrap in cold weather. Eri cloth is also made into coats and Petticoats. The instruments used for twisting and weaving silk are the same as those employed for cotton, but for Eri thread a stronger reed is employed.
Cane and Bamboo Industries :
Cane and bamboo are available in plenty in the hills. Every household is making good use of these materials in making their dwelling houses and also in manufacturing domestic articles such as mats (Dhari) , baskets, carrying baskets, bamboo water -carrier (long bamboo pipes) cane murha (seats) and other things. It is a common industry for all the tribes ofthe district. Among the Karbi tribes mat-making is an economically important industry at present in as much as it supplements their income to a considerable extent. There is a heavy demand for this article for house-making and other purposes by the plains people. These mats are being sold at the weekly markets os Amsoi, Nellie, Chalna, Lumding , and so on. The Kacharis produce a well decorated mat for their ceremonial purposes. The production is of course very limited and meet only the local demand
Metal Industries :
There are limited number of blacksmiths among the Karbis. Same is the case with the Kacharis and the like. This industry has a very prosperous antiquity in the history of crafts in the district. It is found that this industry was flourishing well, when out side supply of required tools and implements of iron and steel were totally nil. The reasons of its present pitiable state of affairs are accredited to the age old crude and unscientific process of production and availability and over-flow of low price outside products.
The people are by nature decorative and they wear ornaments of various designs made generally of silver, brass, and such other metals . In long past, silver and other smiths who made ornaments were many among the tribes, but now it is very difficult to get such smiths from among these tribes, but now it is difficult to get such smiths from among these tribes. Bengali smiths , who mainly are refugees, have taken their place and make ornaments for the people according to their liking and taste. The remnants of the ornamental designs of the tribes are now found in the hands of these smiths. Apart from their own designs, the tribal women are apt to adopt ornaments of various outside designs now-a-days.
Pottery : Pottery is rare in the district. In olden time, it existed amond the Karbi tribes, but now this craft is nearly extinct. The reason is attributed mostly to the availability of cheap utensils of alluminimum.
Food Industries : Among food industries, hand-pounding of rice and bee-keeping are the main ones prevailing from old times. Husking of paddy and pounding of rice are done on the wooden mortars. This is rather a work common for all the tribal households.
Lac Industries : Lac cultivation is an important industry of the district. It is generally reared on Arhar (cajanus indicus) and a plant called Kallibat. The method of propagation is as follows : Pieces of stick lac containing living insects are placed in baskets and tied on to the twigs of the tree on which the next crop is to be grown. After a few days the insects crawl on the young branches and begin to feed and secrete the resin. They are laft undistributed for about six months and the twigs encrusted with the secretion are then picked off. Two crops are generally obtained in the year, the first being collected in May and June , the second in October and November. The first crop is largely used for seed and it is the second which supplies the bulk of the exported lac. A good sized tree yields from 30 seers to 40 seers of stick lac, the best result being obtained from trees of moderate growth which donot contain too much supply of a sap. The caterpillars, parasites, and precaters of a small moth sometimes do much damage to the insect and a heavy storm, at the time when they are spreading over the plant, will destroy them altogether. The lac produced is exported in its crude from stick lac, but the hill tribes occasionally extract the dye which they require for their own use by placing the lac in a wooden mortar pouring boiling water over it and pressing it with a pestle.
Lac is cultivated more or less through out the Karbi Anglong. But most important areas are Duar Amala Mauza and Rongkhang Mauza. In North Cachar Hills lac cultivation is negligible at present. Important markets for lac are Baithalangso, Nellie, Amsoi, Chapanala, Bokajan, Borpathar, Sarupathar, and Deothar. Figures of total output of Karbi Anglong are available for the following years
|1957-58||---- 5,249 mds|
|1958-59||---- 8,853 mds|
|1959-60||---- 3,809 mds|
|The figures are only of unclassed Forests|
Prior to the year of 1954, all stick lac produced in Assam were mainly exported to Calcutta and Bihar. Considering the necessity of a Shellac Factory here in Assam to process stick lac into Shellac, Seed lac, Button lac etc., the Government of Assam established one Shellac Factory at Chaparmukh, Nowgong in the year 1954 under the Department of Cottage Industries. This Factory is exporting lac in the form of Shellac, Button lac, Seed lac, Kiri lac etc., mainly to Calcutta. The purchases of lac by the Shellac Factory, Chaparmukh, from United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district were as follows :-
|1957-58||2,257 mds 30 srs||Rs. 1,11,013.00|
|1958-59||1,283 mds 20srs||Rs. 49,996.00|
|1959-60||1,071 mds 332 srs||Rs. 44,995.00|
The gradual falling of lac production can be attributed to the dead fall in price and lack of stable market. Due to great number of middle men, actual growers are not getting the fair price. High rate of royalty in comparison with the current market price has also affected the production.
With a view to improve the mode of cultivation and thereby to help the tribal cultivator, the Government of Assam has established under the lac cultivation scheme , some 'brood lac-cumdemonstration farms' at different important lac growing areas. Some Demonstration have been trained in the India Lac Research Institute, Namkur, Ranchi (Bihar) and posted them at each of these centres with adequate staff. In addition to their Farm work i.e. propagating brood lac etc., the said demonstrators will go to every village under lac cultivation and distribute brood lac on condition that they will return the phunki stick lac obtained from the brood lac actually supplied to them. They render all possible technical help to the lac growers.
In the United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district there were three brood lac-cumdemonstration centres with an area of 20 acres each as shown below, in 1961.
|Location.||Year of Establishment|
|In Karbi Anglong|
|In N.C. Hills|
In addition to the above, Amjong Brood-lac-cum-Demonstration Farm (K&J Hills) is situated at the junction of Karbi Anglong , Khasi & Jaintia Hills and Nowgong district and its supplies serve Duar Amla Mauza. All the Brood Farms at Baithalangso, were in purely organisational stage in 1961 and so annual production is negligible.
Reasons for decay :
Some of the above stated old-time industries like weaving , bamboo and cane work etc., are still surviving , but others like pottery, blacksmithy, jewellery etc., have nearly died out among the tribals. Lack of proper technical know-how on modern scientific methods of production , lack of finance and proper patronage, change of customer's taste, lack of commercial art and marketing facilities and keen outside competition are the main reasons that have affected these oldtime industries.
Newly grown-up Industries :
Attempts have been made by the Government through Cottage Industries Department to preserve the traditional industries of the district to revive the defunct ones and improve the same. Further, the groth of important small scale industries has been fostered. The following industries have grown up in the urban, semi-urban and rural areas of the district in recent times.
A list of other small and domestic industries working in the district is given below :
(a) Agricultural Industries : (1) Rice and flour milling , (2) Oil pressing by improved ghanis as well as by mills, (3) Gur making , (4) Bakery and (5) Bidi Making
(b) Textile Industries : Handloom weaving on improved loom (fly shuttle), (2) Tailoring, needle work and knitting.
(c) Wood Work Industries : (1) Sawing (2) Carpentry (3) Furniture and Cabinet making (4) Cart wheel making (5) Toy making.
(d) Metal Industries : (1) Jeweller-gold and silver smithy.
(e) Leather and allied industries : (1) Manufacture and repairing of foot-wears. (f) Ceramic Industries : (1) Brick making.
(g) Chemical Industries : (1) Soap making. (h) Repairing Industries such as cycle repairing , repairing of Radio, Gramophone, motor-repairing etc.
INDUSTRIES AND MANUFACTURE OF THE DISTRICT
(i) Power supply :
The power house at Diphu was set up by State Electricity Board, Assam in 1957 and commissioned in 1958 with two generating sets of 25 kw. and 40 kw. Consequently with the increase of load another 50 kw. set was installed in 1965. In March 1968, the Namrup Thermal Power Supply was energized and connected with Diphu by 33 kw. line from Bokajan. The power house is now kept as stand-by supply during the period of interruption or lowering down of the load in the maine line (33 kv).
Karbi Anglong is now connected by a 66 k.v. line over a distance of 91 kilometres from Golaghat sub-station of the Assam State Electricity Board to their Bokajan Sub-division. Diphu Sub- Station is connected by a 33 k.v. line from Bokajan over a distance of 55 km. There is a proposal to extend the line from Diphu to Lumding over a distance of 40 km. and Diphu to Siloni by 11 kv. line over a distance of 24 km. covering Mohindijua and Lumbajan Block. The following table shows the details of electricity in Karbi Anglong .
|Year||No. of Consumers||Domestic consumers||Units consumed by Domestic consumers(kwh)||No of Industrial Consumers||Units consumed by Industrial consumers(kwh)||Other Consumers||Unit Consumed by Other consumers(kwh)|
Power House at Haflong was installed by Assam State Electricity Board in 1966. It has two generating sets of 200 kw. The district has 33 kv. line over a distance of 60 kilometres and a 11 kv. line between Haflong and Maibong over a distance of 23 kms. is under construction. The Power House is not in a position to work throughout the day. It supplies electricity from 1p.m. to 5 a.m. only. Two villages namely Dibrai and Dittock- Cherra are electrified. Proposals are also there to electrify Jatinga and Bara-Haflong. The following table shows details of electricuty consumed in Haflong town.
|Year||No. of Domestic consumers||No.of Industrial consumers|| |
|Total Units consumed|
(ii) Mining and Heavy Industries :
Mining Industries : There is no mining industry save and except the two collieries, namely Koliajan Colliery and Silbheta Colliery located in Karbi Anglong. The Koliajan Colliery is near Dillai and has ben in operation since 1949. The area of working operation is about 700 acres. Coal is at present being mined out along the left bank of the Koliajan. The pits are commonly liable to flood by the water of the stream and regular pumping out of the water becomes necessary to carry out the mining operations. Method and process of extracting coal is bore and pillar method in the first workings. In the second workings, dipillaring is done by caving method by formation of artificial panels. Complete extraction of coal is not possible and loss of coal is nearly 22 % . Picks, shovals, spades are used for extracting coal. Its capital investment on 31 st December, 1959 amounted to Rs. 7.6 lakhs.
The out put of coal from this colliery is gradually on decline. In 1959 the average out put was about 700 tonnes per month. This is a very low production compared to the past which was 1,200 tonnes to 2,000 tonnes per month. Production has further declined in the following years. The main reason for decline in production appears to be water logging of the working pits and inadequate machineries for mining at increasing depths. The coal is transported in trucks to the rail head at Dimapur. These handicaps coupled with poor quality of coal renders its coal less attractive as compared to coal from Ledo and Margherita coal fields.
The Silbheta Colliery is situated at a distance od 42 kms. from Diphu on the Diphu-nowgong Road. Its base area is one square mile. The mining operation in this colliery commenced on 6th Feb., 1963. The thickness of coal seam in this colliery is very low. It varies from 5 feet to 12 feet, the average being 7 feet . The coal seams are generally located at twenty to sixty feet depth from the ground surface. The quarry is worked seasonally in dry whether. In rainy seasons the quarry gets flooded with rain water. No machanised process is applied in extracting coal. Only manual process with the help of shovels, spades etc., is used for mining the coals. The average production of coal is about 12,000 mt. The coal is brought to rail head at Diphu by trucks and dispatched to different centres mainly to Nowgong and Cachar. Its main buyer is tea industry. A small quantity also comes to Gauhati and are used in Brick-making industry. In peak period of its working , this colliery provides employment to about 300 persons.
(iii) Large scale Industries :
Of the Large scale industries mention may be made of Cement Factory which is proposed to be established at Bokajan by Cement Corporation of India with an estimated cost of Rs.10.71 crores. In the eastern region there is heavy shortage of cement and its transportations from surplus areas of other parts of the country involves long haulage and heavy railway freights even though there is no shortage of limestone which is the main raw materials required for the manufacture of the cement in the State of Assam. Taking into consideration all these aspects , the Govt. of India realised the necessity of setting up a cement factory at Bokajan. The prospecting of lime stone in this area was carried out by the Directorate of geology and Mining , Govt. of Assam. The Cement Corporation of India prepared a feasibililty report and also carried out its own prospecting in Sairi Langso and Dilai area in 1967-68. The lime stone deposits in this area were described to be heavily overburdened with soil shale and sand stone of varying thickness. The volume of overburden to be handled in this factory is the largest compared to any other factory. The quarry will be at a distance of 29 kms along the Sariahjan-Diphu Road and the lime stone will be transported from quarry to factory over an aerial distance of 18 kms by ropeway. There is a proposal of constructing residential quarters at the quarry site for the staff working at the quarry.
It is proposed to produce 600 tonnes of cement per day in this factory by utilising the dry process for its manufacture. There will be two kilns of 300 tonnes each. As Bokajan lies in the highest Seismic Zone, the design of heavy and tall structures and foundation for heavy machinery, therefore , needs great skill and caution. A township has also been planned for housing nearly two hundred workers near the factory . Water requirement, which would be about 35 lakh gallons per day (25 lakhs for factory and ten lakhs for township) will be met from the river Dhansiri. Approximate cost of the water works would be about Rs. 30 lakhs. On account of the high cost of material and labour in this area and the fact that Bokajan lies in the highest Seismic Zone, the cost of setting up of the cement factory at the place would be much more than the cost at normal locations. The overall cost of this plant in apptoximation will be Rs. 10.71 crores, of which plant and machinery will cost Rs. 2 crores ; aerial rope way Rs. 2.3 crores ; quarry equipment, laboratory equipment, workshop machinery, cranes, refactory bricks, diesel locos for shunting etc. Rs. 2 crores. Foundation of the factory structure alone will cost Rs. 2 crores and the cost of township and buildings will be Rs. 80 lakhs. It is likely to go into production in 1975.
Plywood Factory : Karbi Anglong has two plywood factories namely the Mikir Hills Saw and Plywood Factory located at Diphu and Mikir Hills Forest Products located at Bokajan. Both the factories are in the private sector, the former being a proprietory unit of M/S Wood Craft Products Ltd., Calcutta and latter is a privately owned concern.
The Mikir Hills Saw and Plywood Factory is situated at a distance of about 4 km from Diphu Rly. Station. It is likely to go into production in 1970. It will have a capital investment of Rs. 7,50,000/- in land, building plant, machineries and equipments. It will have the productive capacity of 50,000 square metres of commercial plywood , 25,000 square metres of black boards and flush doors and 25,000 square metres of tea chests per month. Practically there will be no local demand for the products of the factory and the produced goods will be sent outside the district. The raw materials required for the factory is avilable locally and it will consume only a small portion of the district's timber.
M/S Mikir Hills Forest Product, Bokajan is a saw-cum-plywood factory. It is a smaller unit but running satisfactory. Its products are also sent outside the district.
Tea Gardens : It has already been mentioned that Karbi Anglong has 10 tea gardens with a total area of 1206.08 hectares under them. In fact, manufacture of tes and its cultivation is the most important and largest industry of Karbi Anglong and the only large labour concern. It accounts for employment to the majority of the working force of the district and hence has a place of special importance in the economy of the district. The merits of Karbi Anglong as a tea producing district are , however, comparatively low.
(v) Small scale Industries :
There are small units of saw mills, rice mills, flour mills, brick kilns, candle manufacturing , soap making, trunk and bucket making , printing press, motor repairing etc. The strength of small scale industrial nits registered with Directorate of Industries, Assam was 34 in Karbi Anglong and 3 in North Cachar Hills in 1969-70. Main centres where these industries are clustered are Bokajan, Howraghat and Diphu in Karbi Anglong and Haflong in North cachar Hills. Some of the important small scale industries are as follows :
Saw Mills :The industry is flourishing day by day and there is a great scope of its expansion in future due to abundance of locally available raw materials. There are altogether seven units working at Dhansiri, Khutkhuti, Lahorijan, Diphu in Karbi Anglong and Nailalang in Noth Cachar Hills. The industry has yet vast potentiality for expansion taking into consideration the unlimited forest wealth of the district, a large part of which still remains untapped. The capital investment of these saw mills varies from rupees ten thousand to Rs. two lakhs. Diesel, steam sets are used for running these saw mills. Sawn timbers are mostly sent outside the State particularly to places like Calcutta, Rourkela, Delhi, Rajasthan etc. A large number of sleepers are also supplied to Railways.
Rice Mills : There are only five rice mills in Karbi Anglong of which two are at Diphu and one at Bokajan.
Flour Mills : With the change in the dietary habits the consumption of wheat is increasing gradually and this has provided scope for the opening of small units of flour mills (Atta chaki) for grinding wheat. Besides grinding atta, these mills have also undertaken the grinding of other things loke turmeric, chillies etc.
Ginning Mills : Cotton is widely cultivated in Karbi Anglong and almost whole of it is exported outside the district in unginned form. It has also a good international market as it can be blended with wool very suitably. The Diphu Cotton Ginning Co-operative Mills was established in 1955-56 with an estimated cost of rupees threelakhs but since its establishment it is not working satisfactorily.
The Assam Hills Small Industries Development Corporation has undertaken development of few industries in the United Mikir and North Cachar Hills district. Khandsari and lime stone plant in Karbi Anglong and Fruit Preservation Factory in North Cachar Hills are likely to be new ventures of the Corporation.
(vi) Cottage Industries :
Important industries that exist in the district are weaving , sericulture , pottery, bamboo and cane works, blacksmithy, gold and silver smithy, lac have already been described as old time industries. Among other cottage industries of the district mention may be made of bee-keeping, rope and net making, oil crushing etc., practised by the individuals here and there . In the sugar cane producing areas gur making is very common . In order to encourage cottage industries , the Khadi and Village Industries Board has set a number of development centres in the district. In recent years tailoring also appears to have made large entry into interior areas of the district. Due to the increasing use of bicycles, the cheapest means of conveyance , a number of cycle repairing shops are coming up in the towns. Tailoring and Bicycle repairing are however not taken up by the indigenous people.
(c) INDUSTRIAL POTENTIALITIES AND PLANS FOR FUTURE DEVELOPMENT :
Agro-Industries : It seems there is a vast field for the development os small scale and cottage industries based on its agricultural and forest products in the district. Main agricultural products of the district are paddy, maize, mustard and oil seeds, cotton, sugarcane, ginger, turmeric and such other crops. Most of these agricultural products except paddy are exported outside the district. Industries based on the raw materials of these crops can thrive well in the different localities of the district. Industries like pressing of oil seeds in ghanis, ginning andspinning of cotton, making of gur from sugarcane, processing of ginger and turmeric, can grow well and benefit the economically underdeveloped indigenous inhabitants of the district. There is also a good scope for the development of fruit preservation industry, as fruits, particularly orange and pine-apple, are sufficiently available in the North Cachar Hills. Some of the above mentioned industries would be seasonal in character . The busy season of these industries would coincide with the slack season of agriculture and cultivators could easily devote their leisure time in the pursuit of these industries. The industries like the pressing of oil seeds in ghannis and ginning and spinning of cotton can provide ideal subsidiary occupation to the agriculturists.
Forest based industry : The district is full of forests abounding in varieties of good timber which can be used as raw materials for cabinet and furniture manufacture, saw mills, timber plants etc. Scope is also there for manufacture of charcoal for fueling purposes for many industries. Bee keeping industry has sufficient scope for its development. Due to the abundance of wild flowers in forests, bee keeping is socially suitable to this district. Extraction of Agaru (scent) and collection of Banslochan and other medicines have some scope to develop as an industry as these are available in the forests
A variety of products can be manufactured from bamboo and cane which are abundantly available in the district. Huge quantities of plucking baskets made of cane are required in the tea gardens every year. The smaller establishment if developed can well cater to the needs of individuals by taking the manufacture of various types of furnitures and sundry articles like boxes, cradles, Murhas, office trays, waste paper baskets, sital pati etc. Umbrella handle making industry can develop well as the district abounds in Raidang cane which can becompared favourably with the reowned Malacca cane.
Minerals-based industry : Though the district has not been mapped in detail and the economic value of its mineral resources are still not precisely known, it has potentialities in coal, lime-stone and clays. Minor occurence of Mica, Beryl etc., are also reported. Coal, a basic fuel for development of industries, is mainly found in the areas of Koilajan, Longlai, Kheroni, Silbheta, Desobai-Nala and Khumabaman range and other places along the Jamuna valley on the southern side of Karbi Anglong. Two collieries at Koliajan and Silbheta are already working. The anticipated reserve of coal in some of the important areas may be of the order of a feew million tonnes. Detailed exploration to prove the extent, reserve and grade of coal in different places is underway to open up and develop coal mining industry.
Limestone of good quality have been reported from many places in the district and the reserves contain 154 million tonnes. This area can support a cement plant to meet the demand for cement in upper Assam, Tripura and Manipur. The main occurences are around Garampani in the Kopili valley in the North Cachar Hills and Koliajan, Manjeli, Silbheta, Mayong Disa, Longlai and the adjacent areas along the Jamuna valley on the southern side of Karbi Anglong . It is learnt that the Dillai area has the best potentialities for the manufacture of portland cement. It is reported that this area alone is in a position to supply limestone for about 350 yearrs for a factory with a production capacity of 500 tanne cement a day. The detailed exploration by drilling and sampling is now being carried on by the geological Survey of India and the Directorate of geology and Mining, Assam for setting up cement factories at Garampani in the North Cachar Hills and at Bokajan in the Karbi Anglong and scheme for establishing cement factory at Bokajan has already been taken up.
Various types and grades of clays are found to occur within the rocks of Jaintia, Borail and Dihing series. Good quality of clays are known to occur at places such as Kaliani, Disobai nala etc. Lithomarge, a special variety of clay is also found in this district. Though the details of the reserves and grades are not known, some of these clays may be useful for ceramic ware industries.
(d) LABOUR AND EMPLOYERS ORGANISATION :
Labour organisations : Assam Chah Kramachari Sangha and Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha are the two organisation for employees functioning in the district. Assam Chah Kramachari Sangha is the organisation for the staff other than the manual workers. it is affiliated to Indian National Trade Union Congress. Its brance office is located at Golaghat and this branch covers the Karbi Anglong , North Cachar Hills and Golaghat sub-division of Sibsagar District. Out of nearly one thousand employees (only staff) this Sangha has got over eight hundred members which appear to be constant for the last 5 years. Quite recently it has granted a monthly stipend of Rs. 50/- to the doctor of Sorunga T.E. to undergo a course of training in family planning.
Assam Chah Kramachari Sangha is an organisation of the manual labourers and affiliated to Indian National Trade Union Congress. It has its permanent branch office at Golaghat, constructed recently at a cost of over a lakh rupees. This branch extends its jurisdiction over the Karbi Anglong , North Cachar Hills and Golaghat Sub-division of Sibsagar district. The rate of subscription is Rs. 6/- per head per year. The membership of the Sangha is round twelve thousands out of the total employees of fourty thousands working in the above mentioned area.
Employer's organisation : Assam Tea planters Association Jorhat and the Bhartiya Chah Parishad, Dibrugarh are the two employer's organisation which cover the tea gardens of Karbi Anglong.
(e) WELFARE OF INDUSTRIAL LABOUR :
In pre-Independence days there was no organisation of the workers. Effective and suitable laws were few. No practical machinery was however there to look after the workers and their welfare. As a matter of fact the workers in these days were at the mercy of the employers.
But since Independence, due to the passing of the various enactments and radical changes effected into the existing laws to ameliorate the terms and conditions of the industrial labour, the labourers, particularly the tea labourers have made rapid strides in matters realting to working hours, working condition , leave with wages, sick allowance, national and festival holidays, water supply, medical, educational and recreational facilities etc. Security of service , freedom of association and expression, increase wages, payment of bonus, employment of field staff, settlement and adjudication of industrial disputes, are some of the high -lights for the welfare of the industrial labour. Comparatively the earning position of the labour family is better than that of an ordinary middle class family as there are generally more than one wage earner in the former. Inspite of all these , there is no appreciable change in their standard of living. This is mainly due to their popular liquor habits and apathy against education.
The following legistative enactments have been governing the terms and conditions of the industrial workers.
(1) The Workmen's Compensation Act 1923.
(2) Indian Trade Union Act, 1926.
(3) The Tea District Emigrant Labour Act, 1932.
(4) The Payment of Wages Act, 1936
. (5) The Assam Maternity Benefit Act, 1944.
(6) The Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, 1946.
(7) The Industrial Disputes Act, 1947
. (8) The Factories Act, 1948.
(9) The Assam Shop and Establishment Act, 1948.
(10) The Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
(11) The Plantation Labour Act, 1951. (12) The Assam Tea Plantations Provident Fund (Scheme) Act, 1955.
(13) The Working Journalists (Conditions of Service).
(14) The Assam Plantations Employees Welfare Fund Act, 1959.
(15) The Employment Exchanges (Compulsory Notification) Act, 1959.
Wages : There has been a phenomenal increase in wage levels of industrial labourers in tea gardens since 1946. Prior to this, the rate of wages was Rs.0.37 for male and Rs.0.25 for female per day. At a tripartite conference held at Delhi in 1947 , increase in wages was agreed upto to Rs.0.62 for male and Rs.0.50 for female per day. This rate of wage was , however, exclusive of the food and other concessions enjoyed by the workers. The Government of Assam again in 1952 under the Minimum Wages Act, revised the wages of the tea labourers and prescribed the rate of Rs. 0.52 for children exclusive of the food and other concessions enjoyed by the workers. The minimum rates of wages were again revised by the Government with effect from 1st December, 1959 which is still in force. The rates were fixed at Rs. 1.76 equally for male and female and Rs. 0.88 for children per day. Besides these rates , it was made obligatory on the part of the employers to supply food grains to the labourers at Rs. 17.60 per maunds.
Bonus : For the first time the labourers came to enjoy bonus in 1956, on account of the year 1953 and 1953, under a tripartite agreement. The gardens below 300 acres Rs.65/- per adult. A male worker with a minimum of 240 days work in a year was entitled to full bonus. Out of this bonus, one third was to be invested in National Savings Certificate. The rate of bonus given to labourer and the staff is however changing from year to year.
Medical facilities : The Plantations Labour Act, 1951 made it obligatory on the part of the employers to provide free medical facilities to the workers emploed by them for special treatment. The Government has prescribed 7 medical hospitals in the State for special treatment. In 1947 the Tripartite Conference prescribed 25 np. per day as sick allowance for the manual workers, but so far as staff is concerned, it was more or less customary to obtain sickness benefit of course with variation. The manual labourer are enjoying 14 days sick leave with two thirds of their normal pay under the Plantation Labour Act in a year. This is also applicable to the staff but by convention, they are enjoying greater benefits. Almost in every gaarden, there is also the system of paying sickness hazira to the labourers while their dependents are sick. The female workers are also entitled to maternity leave (4 weeks prenatal and 8 weeks post-natal) for 12 weeks with Rs.8.41 p. week as maternity allowance.
Pension and gratuity : As regards old age benefits there is no set law nor is there any industrial scheme for payment of retirement benefit to the workers by way of pension or gratuity. Nambarnadi T.E. in Karbi Anglong while it was under European management had its own pension scheme for the staff members. But at present instead of granting life pensions to the retired employees has restricted the pension benefit to a limited number of years with some commutation of money. But in other gardens retirement benefit by way of gratuity at the rate of 15 days for every completed years of service is given. In case of the manual workers some gardens are in practice of granting a subsistence allowance either in cash or kind while others prefer to offer employment to the dependents of the retired labourers.
Provident fund : Employees Provident Fund Act of 1952 made it an obligation on the part of the employers to contribute 61/2% of the wages and dearness allowance payable to each employees and similar contributions shall be made by the employees. But contributions towards the administration of fund is to be made by the employer alone.
Other benefits enjoyed by the laboureres of the tea gardens are as follows :
(1) Leave with wages at the rate of 1 day for every 10 days of work for both adults and for children.
(2) Free housing accommodation, free water supply within 100 yards, from their residence and free supply of required tea at work sites.
(3) Free creche and educational facilities in most cases up to the primary standard. There is however no such facility available to the agricultural labourers.