Guwahati, Jan 29 (Agencies): After being criticized by the opposition for considering dominant tea garden community as a vote bank, Congress government in Assam, has charted out  measures for their welfare ahead of the state assembly election slated to be held later this year.

"Our government has taken up many welfare programmes for the overall development of the tea community in the last nine years because we know it is impossible to think of a developed Assam without ameliorating their plight," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi who seeks to get re-elected for a third consecutive term this time, said in a statement.

The government, he said, has put in Rs 110 crore in the past nine years and plans to sanction Rs 20 crore this year for the welfare of the tea community while the previous Asom Gana Parishad regime had spent only Rs 10 crore.

Under the Assam Gratuity Fund Scheme, the provident fund deposit limit and insurance benefit in case of death has been increased.

To assist production and income of the tea community, the Union Ministry of Trade and Commerce had announced a fund of more than Rs 2,000 crore as special package to modernise tea industry, Gogoi said on Friday.

The state government in its turn would set up a rest house and a cultural centre in Rupnagar in the city. Besides, two other rest houses would be soon constructed at Dibrugarh and Silchar for the sick people of the tea community, ex-tea garden workers, their care takers or attendants.

Another important aspect which will be considered by the government would be to expand the panchayats to the tea gardens.

"You will be happy to know that tea garden labourer families are getting benefits of Indira Awas Yojana, Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarajgar Yojana and other schemes," he said.

Referring to sick gardens and tea factories, the chief minister said the government has taken steps to revive 14 of them under the sponsorship of Assam Tea Corporation so that the livelihood of the labourers is ensured.

This apart four new Industrial Training Institutes were established and 17 others modernised to increase the capacity of the workers.

Besides, a special scheme has been taken up to construct 50 training centres in as many tea garden areas of the state for capacity building of youths of the tea community so that they can be self employed.

He said that the government had improved health services in 300 tea gardens in 2010-2011 and plans to supply ambulances to those gardens.