Protest against sealing of Sepoydhura Tea Estate

Darjeeling: The GNLF has decided to set up a series of roadblockades on NH 55 from March 15 onwards to protest against the sealing of the Sepoydhura tea estate by liquidators appointed by Calcutta High Court.

The sealing has come as a major blow to the 285 workers of the estate, who have been rendered jobless before the first flush.

B. Dasgupta, the subdivisional officer of Kurseong, who had earlier taken the initiative to appoint a receiver for the garden, 60 km from here, admitted that it has been sealed.

It was learnt that the high court appointed a liquidator after a nationalised bank and a private party moved court to recover certain dues from R. Vyas, the owner. The court move is seen as a step towards selling off the garden for the recovery of outstanding dues on behalf of the people concerned.

However, it has peeved the workers of the estate. “What will they do now? The workers are on the verge of starvation. Many families are sick and with the academic session slated to start soon, parents don’t have money to send their children to school or to buy books,” claimed I.N. Pradhan, president, GNLF Kurseong Branch Committee.

“Under the circumstance, we have no alternative but to go on hunger strike and set up road blockades (on the Siliguri-Darjeeling stretch) from March 15,” said Pradhan.

Sources said Vyaas was running the garden till it was shut down three years ago. The receiver had then appointed a Calcutta-based agency, M/s Marco Polo, two years ago to lift the green leaves from the garden.

“When fresh tenders were floated after the expiry of the contract with Marco Polo recently, Calcutta High Court issued an order to stall the process. On March 2, the receiver handed over the garden to the liquidator,” said Pradhan.

However, administrative officials hinted that the government could move court on behalf of the workers.

Pradhan today appealed Subash Ghisingh, the DGHC administrator, to take necessary action.

The workers, in their turn, have requested governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi to bail them out of the crisis. “He had been to Ramjhora when he was in Darjeeling. We want him to visit our garden and take stock of the situation here,” said Biroj Pradhan, the secretary of the GNLF’s Sephoydhura union.

Source: The Telegraph