New owner for Chamurchi Tea Estate

Chamurchi Tea Estate is expected to have a new owner soon.

Located in the Dhupguri block, nearly 100km from here, the garden, with 1,047 workers, was abandoned in 2001.

“We have received a letter from Sushila Kejriwal, owner of Chamurchi Tea Estate,” said G. Boriah, the director (tea development) of the tea board, over phone from Calcutta today. “She has mentioned that Om Prakash Mal, a well known face in the state’s jute industry, has signed an agreement with her, consenting to take over the garden.”

Kejriwal has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Mal last week. The news comes within a week of the tea board’s ultimatum to owners of closed gardens, giving them a month’s time to reopen and avail of the financial assistance, or else face acquisition.

The letter is the first such to reach the tea board ever since the deadline was notified by the board, Boriah said.

The owner, who represents Chamurchi Agro (India) Ltd, when contacted in Calcutta, refused to give details on Mal. “It’s true I have signed an agreement with a new investor capable of resuming activities at the garden,” Kejriwal said from Calcutta. “As the property is in liquidation, we need to clear some technicalities and will seek advice from the tea board.”

She further said the outstanding liabilities of the workers would be borne by the new owner. “These issues have already been sorted out. As soon as the technicalities are over, he will restart the garden,” she said.

Trade union leaders, however, are wary of the development.

“As soon as the financial package was declared, an entrepreneur was found within a week,” Samir Roy, convener of the Defence Committee of Plantation Workers’ Rights, said. “Both the Centre and state should check the track record of these new buyers.”

Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers, echoed him.
Source: The Telegraph