Mamata opposes tea garden strike: seeks report on the situation

SILIGURI
12 Jul 2018

Taking a serious note of the ongoing problems in tea-gardebs of hills, Dooars and Terai regions Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held an important meeting at Uttarkanya today.
Along with officials of the state government Mann Ghising of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Binay Tamang, chairman of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) were present in the meeting. The officials of different tea-associations were invited to the meeting also.
The CM reportedly expressed concern over the tea-garden issue in the meeting and said that the state government would leave no stone unturned to resolve the crisis.
Mamata Banerjee also constituted a committee to prepare a report on the crisis in the tea-gardens and asked the committee members to submit the same at the earliest.
However, the CM did not reportedly support the three-day strike convened by the joint forum of 24 trade unions of tea-garden workers. She said that strike was not an answer to all problems.
Incidentally, the joint forum has already started campaigning for the proposed strike from July 23 to July 25 in all tea-gardens of hills, Terai and Dooars regions. A general strike has also been planned to garner support for the issues raised by the forum.
The CM said even the leaders of the hills were not in favour of the strike.
Mamata also urged that vigil should be maintained upon the tea-gardens. “Some bad people with an evil motive can enter the gardens and seek refuge. All should be aware of such elements,” she said.
The CM was informed that in Alipurduar alone six out of 60 tea-gardens were closed. Two of the closed gardens are owned by the Duncan group, she was told.
Referring to the assurance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the CM said without naming him, “It was told during the election campaign that the central government would adopt the closed tea-gardens. But the promise was not fulfilled.”
The CM discussed at length about the closed and sick tea-gardens on Thursday’s meeting.
Harihar Acharya, vice president of GJM affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) briefed chief minister about the problems faced by the workers of closed Panighatta tea garden since 2013 and about six other tea gardens of Alkemist company. He informed chief minister how tea workers in hills are facing acute problems of getting rations, medical benefits, quarters, non payment of provident funds, gratuity and many other issues.
Mamata thanked him for highlighting the issues of hill tea gardens and said that the problems would be sorted out soon. 
She also said that the matter would  be discussed in the next meeting with members of the tea advisory council.
On May 25 last year the tea advisory council was formed to solve the problems of tea gardens and minister for tourism Gautam Deb was appointed as chairman of the council.
On June 19 this year 4th meeting of the council was held at Nabanna, Kolkata.
Chief Minister said that the government could cancel the lease of the gardens if they did not co-operate with the government and benefit workers at large.
State labour minister Malay Ghatak, Tourism minister Gautam Ghosh, NBDD minister Rabindranath Ghosh, GTA chairman Binay Tamang, GNLF chief Mann Ghishing, MP Shanta Chhetri, Mirik municipality chairman L B Rai and others were present in today’s meeting. (EOIC)