Trouble paying school fees

Jaigaon: The future of school and college students in the closed Bharnobari tea estate hangs in balance as bureaucratic red-tape threatens to choke the promised relief.

The students, who have to pay their annual fees within a week, were pinning their hopes on a promise made by Jalpaiguri zilla parishad sabhadhipati Banamali Roy a month ago.

“We had gone to meet the sabhadhipati at the block development office at Kalchini on March 22. At that time he was discussing the problems of closed tea gardens with the district magistrate and the subdivisional officer of Alipurduar. He had assured us that the zilla parishad would provide money for our fees if we apply in writing. Now if the promise is not fulfilled, it will be impossible to continue our studies,” said Sunita Lohar, a second-year arts student at Birpara College.

Lohar said she and her friends had submitted the written requests with the block development officer just as the sabhadhipati had asked them to do.

Jalpaiguri district Congress secretary Sanjib Biswas also claimed that on April 11, 32 applications were submitted at the Kalchini block office. “The district administration should follow up the matter and help the students,” he said.

Roy, however, said he had not received any of the applications. “I had asked the students to submit written requests to avail of the monetary help, but I have not received a single letter till date,” Roy said when contacted today.

Raju Sherpa, the Kalchini block development officer, said he had received not 32 but 17 applications. “I am yet to receive any order from the zilla parishad to forward these applications to them. I will do so as soon as I get the directive,” Sherpa said.

A member of the operations and maintenance committee of the Bharnobari tea estate, Krishna Baraik, said more than 100 boys and girls had been forced to leave their studies in the 18 months since the garden closed down.

The situation is similar in the Raimatang tea garden, which is also closed and falls under the same block as Bharnobari. Sources said more than 50 young men and women there had been forced to migrate from the garden for jobs.

Source: The Telegraph