Mixed Report on Tea Status Report

Siliguri: Anuradha Talwar’s status report on the present condition of the closed tea gardens in the region has evoked mixed response in the brew belt.

While workers of closed estates are banking on the report prepared by the adviser to the Supreme Court’s food commissioner for a better future, trade union members and planters are sceptical about how much it would help implement development schemes and resume work at the gardens.

“We have been making several demands related to the workers’ welfare since the closure of the gardens. Hardly a fraction of those have been implemented till now,” said Mani Kumar Darnal, the general secretary of the Intuc-affiliated National Union of Plantation Workers. “Though Talwar holds an important post, we doubt if it would prompt the government intensify its initiatives in the estates.”

Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, echoed him. “With no major breakthrough in the past few years, we are now thinking of a movement to pressure the governments and planters to reopen the gardens,” Dey said.

Even the planters do not seem to think that Talwar’s report is going to help much. “Reopening shut gardens is getting difficult every day due to several reasons, one of them being the rise in social costs,” said N.K. Basu, the principal adviser to the Indian Tea Planters’ Association. “We don’t consider the report to be a significant document.”

Workers, however, think otherwise. “The report she has prepared comprise true information and details. If senior officials go through it and analyse our condition, there is a high chance of more relief flowing in,” said Gopal Das, an employee of the Sikarpur tea estate.

Source: The Telegraph