Fund use mismatched at tea garden

Workers of the closed Kanthalguri Tea Estate today kept nine members of the operations and maintenance committee (OMC) confined to the garden office for six-seven hours, accusing them of defalcating Rs 10 lakh.

The accused nine were detained by police in the evening. “The workers’ complaint has been accepted. We have asked the police to arrest the OMC members and produce them in court tomorrow,” said Jalpaiguri subdivisional officer Atanu Roy.

The nine, all trade union leaders, owe allegiance to different political parties, including the CPM, Trinamul Congress and the Congress.

A number of closed gardens in the Dooars are run by OMCs, which oversee plucking and sell the green tealeaves to other factories.

Trouble started at Kanthalguri in the morning.

“We went to the office to ask the members about our dues,” said Brahma Oraon, a worker. “We also wanted to know what happened to the funds received from the government under schemes like 100-days’ work, old age pension and stipend for the handicapped. But they misbehaved with us and we got angry.”

A few hundred workers locked the office with the members inside. Even a force from the Banarhat police station could not disperse them. Finally, in the evening, the police escorted the OMC members out of the office and took them to the police station.

An employee at the garden office, however, said a minor incident was being blown out of proportion. “It was a trivial dispute about a loan granted by the block development office to some of the workers for doing petty business during the Pujas,” he claimed.

Source: The Telegraph