High Court questions Bengal govt for closed tea gardens

Calcutta High Court today asked the Bengal government to file affidavits stating what action it has taken to open the closed tea gardens in North Bengal.

The directive came after the court admitted for hearing a PIL on the matter.

A division bench comprising Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Justice Tapen Sen also asked the government to state its action against the trafficking rackets that are allegedly active in the tea belt, luring away women with the promise of jobs.

Advocate Santi Ranajan Das today moved the PIL on behalf of Amitava Chakraborty, a social activist of Jalpaiguri. “In north Bengal, 18 tea gardens are closed since 2002. At least 750 workers of these gardens have died of starvation. But neither the Centre nor the state has taken any initiatives to reopen the estates,” Das said.

The Centre, however, is poised to acquire five closed gardens in the Dooars invoking 16 (E) of the Tea Act.

Das alleged that taking advantage of the situation, some people have started luring away young women from the closed gardens.

He demanded that a high power committee, headed by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattcharjee, be set up to find a solution to the problems at the tea gardens.

A year ago, a similar PIL was filed before the high court, which asked the state government to produce a list of names of all the workers who had died of starvation after the closure of the tea gardens.

The case is still pending and the state government is yet to submit the list.

Source: The Telegraph