Lack of disbursement of Education fund to tea workers

The Tea Board of India plans to take action against the owner of the Bharnobari tea garden for not disbursing money it sent in 2005 as education stipend for Madhyamik and higher secondary (HS) candidates from workers’ families.

With the garden being abandoned for more than a year and the operating and maintenance committee (OMC) running out of funds to pay the workers, many families have been forced to take their children out of school. “My daughter Sabitri used to be in Class VII and son Jitram in VI, but now they do not go to school anymore. When we do not have money to feed the family, education becomes a luxury,” said Lakshmimoni Oraon, a worker.

According to the convener of the OMC, Manbahadur Chhetri, the tea board had sent two demand drafts in August 2005, one amounting to Rs 48,935 and the other Rs 32,768. The money was supposed to be distributed among 44 students. This year, there are 37 students taking Madhyamik and seven HS candidates, he said.

“The drafts were deposited in the account of the manager of the Bharnobari Tea and Industries Ltd at the Hashimara branch of the State Bank of India. But the money was never disbursed,” Chhetri said. “We have long been telling the district administration as well as the tea board about it, but to no avail.”

A. Roy Chowdhury, deputy director, tea development and plantation, Tea Board of India, said the board had written to the owner, Arvind Poddar, last March asking him to return the money. “We had given him seven days’ time to reply, but we never heard from him,” Roy Chowdhury said.

Source: The Telegraph