NALSA's special plans for Dooars' Tea Gardens

The National Legal Services Authority (Nalsa) has chalked out special plans for tea gardens of the Dooars, 13 of which are either closed or have been abandoned.

Other than helping to provide food, security and protection of fundamental rights, the objective of Nalsa under its newly introduced “Save the Garden, Save Workers” campaign is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and ailing workers and their families.

Under the project, a helpline (9933946884), a relief collection and distribution centre, a legal aid and advice cell, a hospice and geriatric care centre, ambulances and other services have been introduced. The centres will operate from the premises of Matrisangha Janakalyan Ashram here, a welfare organisation headquartered in Calcutta.

The implementing partners include NGOs, community-based and voluntary organisations, trade unions and district and subdivisional legal service authorities.

Nalsa was constituted on December 5, 1995 (though it effectively started working five years later) as an outcome of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The act had been introduced to give a statutory base to legal aid programmes throughout the country in a uniform manner.

A five-member Nalsa delegation, led by its adviser and head of national programme implementation Sreerupa Mitra Chaudhury, was here to launch the initiative yesterday. M.K. Sharma, the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, and Justice Indira Banerjee of Calcutta High Court were some of the others who were present.

Mitra Chaudhury said a Lok Adalat would be held after the registration of every 300 complaints for the settlement of disputes. If conciliatory efforts do not work out, cases will be initiated and the ruling of the judges of the Lok Adalat would be “as binding as any other court”.

A discussion on the state of the tea gardens was held today. It was attended by the divisional commissioner, Jalpaiguri, the district magistrates, sabhadhipatis, social welfare officers and the BDOs of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar. Trade union and NGO representatives as well as some garden workers were among the 350 participants.

“The DMs presented the work their administrations had done in the gardens, which was challenged to an extent by some trade union leaders. Some NGOs complained of lack of security in the gardens. We have collected all versions and will take up follow-up measures,” Mitra Chaudhury said.

Administration and trade union sources are, however, sceptical about how effective the initiative will be. “The Lok Adalats may help in minor cases like theft or land disputes. However, they may not be a solution for industrial and labour disputes,” said Chitta Dey, a trade union leader .

Source: The Telegraph