Odisha govt disburses Rs 43 crore to poor dependent on Kendu leaves

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government on Sunday disbursed assistance to the tune of Rs 43 crore to kendu leaf pluckers, binders and seasonal employees.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday wrote to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, urging the Centre to withdraw 18 percent GST on kendu leaf trade as it is linked to the livelihood of poor people.

The money was given out at a function as part of the state government’s special package for the poor people engaged in kendu leaf trade.

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As a part of the package, Rs 1,000 was given to each kendu leaf plucker, and Rs 1,500 to each seasonal staff and binders in the first phase as an interim measure, an official statement said.

Kendu leaf is used to wrap bidis, and is one of the significant forest produce on which about 8 lakh people have a right for their livelihood.

Though the people of 12 districts got the assistance, those belonging to Baragarh will get it after the Model Code of Conduct imposed for the December 5 bypoll to Padampur assembly constituency is lifted, Patnaik said.

The assistance was directly transferred to the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.

“Happiness of the poor gives me joy. I have always been with the poor people and I will continue to endeavour for their welfare,” Patnaik said.

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