Tea workers block road

More than 500 workers of Bharnobari Tea Estate blocked the Hasimara-Bhutan road for nearly six hours today to demand the reopening of the garden.

Later, they lodged an FIR against the owner, Arvind Poddar, for his failure to deposit the employer’s share of provident fund (Rs 2.10 crore) and pay gratuity (Rs 55 lakh) to the workers.

The estate, with more than 2,000 workers, has been closed since December 2005. Union minister of state for commerce and industry Jairam Ramesh recently hinted that a new owner wanted to take over Bharnobari, but nothing came of it.

Today, around 200 vehicles travelling to and from Bhutan got stranded on the road because of the blockade. Bharnobari Tea Estate is located beside the road.

The agitation was supposed to run for 12 hours, but was called off midway after Jaigaon police intervened.

“We have started a case against Poddar under Sections 406 and 409 of the IPC (criminal breach of trust),” said Achinto Gupto, the officer-in-charge of the Jaigaon police station.

“If Poddar is not arrested and our garden is not opened within a week, we will call a 72-hour strike,” said Citu leader Madan Sarki.

On September 3, three directors of the company that owns Kohinoor Tea Garden in Samuktala surrendered in court after they were accused of defaulting on provident fund dues.

Source: The Telegraph