Assam has become the first state to offer financial aid under a special scheme for pregnant tea garden workers. They will also not be engaged in work from the third trimester of pregnancy to three months after delivery. Women form the bulk of the workforce in the Assam’s 800-odd tea gardens.

Health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The scheme, which will be launched on Monday, is a wage compensation programme. Our objective is to provide better health and nutritional supplements to pregnant women. For this, each will get Rs 12,000 to look after herself and her unborn baby.”

The Rs 12,000 compensation will be paid in four instalments — Rs 2,000 (in the first trimester), Rs 4,000 (in the second trimester), Rs 3,000 (for institutional delivery) and Rs 3,000 (for registration of the child’s birth). The minister said a pregnant worker will be eligible for the special scheme benefits only if her family has stuck to the twochild norm, if she is 18 years or above, if she opts for institutional delivery, and is a resident of a tea garden and an Indian citizen.