Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today threatened to launch a movement in the tea belt of north Bengal if the Center and state fail to open the closed estates within the next one month.

She said this at a convention of workers from closed tea gardens organized by the Trinamul-affiliated Terai Dooars Tea Plantation Workers’ Union. The tea trade union was formed by the party recently to augment its support base in the brew belt.

“We have heard a lot about packages and initiatives. Now we want to make it clear that in case both the state and Center fail to reopen the closed gardens, we will simultaneously organize rallies in the streets of Calcutta and Delhi with the starving residents,” Mamata said. “We have formed our trade union in the tea industry and hope that now the governments will stop being sluggish and not force us to launch a movement.”

The meet, organized at the Colony Maidan here, was attended by close to 20,000 people, mostly from the tea gardens.

“Given the plight of tea workers, who are dying everyday, we want the state and Center to form a committee to monitor the implementation of the special package in the closed and sick tea gardens. This will stop the siphoning of money,” Mamata said.

A number of garden-level trade union leaders from estates like New Dooars, Raipur, Sikarpur and Bhandapur, Neora Nuddy and Anandapur, owing allegiance to the Citu, Intuc and the HMS, formally joined the Trinamul trade union today.

“We smell a rat in the lackadaisical attitude of the state government in reopening the gardens. They are trying to convert tea gardens into real estate as they have done at Chandmoni near Siliguri,” she alleged. “The recent decision by Tata Tea to resort to disinvestment in the tea sector is a clear indication.”

In her speech, Mamata highlighted the development of railway services in north Bengal during her stint as minister and trained guns at the CPM for its failure to check starvation deaths.

Estate reopens

The 11-day strike called by the Citu-affiliated Cha Bagan Majdoor Union at Bhagatpur Tea Garden in Nagrakata block was called off today following a tripartite meeting, reports our Jaigaon correspondent.

Source: The Telegraph