CITU to protest against closing of tea gardens

The Citu’s Darjeeling district leadership is set to launch a movement in the hills and the Terai, demanding the reopening of closed factories and gardens as soon as possible.

The trade union does not seem to be bothered by the fact that they have very little support base in the hills.

“Some planters in Darjeeling and the Terai are evading their responsibilities by keeping their factories closed and selling tealeaves to other gardens. The same thing happened in the Dooars, where several estates have shut down,” said Ananda Pathak, the president of the Citu’s Darjeeling district committee, at a newsmeet here today.

Pathak named Ringtang of Sonada and Merryview of the Terai, where the owners are reportedly selling tealeaves to other gardens, instead of making the produce at their own factories.

“At Ringtang, the 1,200-odd workers are paid only against plucking of tealeaves. Dues like provident fund and gratuity have been pending over years. Labourers at Merryview do receive their wages, but the factory is closed,” said Pathak, who is a senior leader of the Citu-affiliated Darjeeling Jilla Chai Kaman Mazdoor Union.

According to Citu leaders, the management of Ringtang closed down the garden two years ago, when they launched a movement for the workers’ right then. Since that time, nothing has improved at the estate, they said.

“We had demanded that the management should run the estate properly. Instead of listening to us, the owner left the garden and now the factory is closed,” said Ajit Sarkar, the Darjeeling district Citu secretary. “At present, around 6,000-7,000 kg of tealeaves is sold from four divisions of the garden everyday.”

The leaders sought government intervention in re-opening Sepoy Dhoorah, another garden in the hills, which has been abandoned for more than five years. They also said the Tea Trading Corporation of India should hand over three of its gardens, Putung, Peshok and Vah-Takvar, to the state. “These gardens have been shut down over years and the Centre has done nothing to reopen them. Many prospective entrepreneurs are interested in taking over the estates,” Sarkar said.

Source: The Telegraph