Fate of closed tea gardens to be decided

Jan. 29: Officials of the Jalpaiguri district administration and Bengal government will meet in the third week of February to decide on the fate of the closed tea gardens of Kanthalguri and Ramjhora and their 8,000-odd impoverished residents.

The meting was fixed after the district administration received seven applications from entrepreneurs and companies expressing interest in acquiring the gardens, which have been shut for six years.

“We had advertised in newspapers and had sought bids from interested parties,” said Jalpaiguri district magistrate R. Ranjit. “This was followed by submission of applications, some of which contain joint proposals for both gardens. We plan to meet next month, open the bids and decide on them.”

Ranjit said there were “five proposals for Kanthalguri and two for Ramjhora”. The extended deadline for submitting bids was January 15.

In the past six years, the state government had made repeated attempts to reopen the estates but failed before cancelling the leases.

Finally, upon the insistence of Union minister of state of commerce and industry, Jairam Ramesh, it was decided that the state government would take the responsibility of finding new owners for Ramjhora and Kanthalguri while the Centre would take care of the remaining 11 closed gardens in the Dooars.

B.L. Meena, the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri, said senior officials from the state land and land reforms department would attend the meeting in February since “the leases of both the gardens stand cancelled”.

“We will evaluate the bids and finalise the companies or persons to whom the gardens can be handed over,” Meena added.

The district magistrate said: “We are yet to fix the modalities of the meeting. But there is a possibility that those who have bid for the gardens or their representatives will be called for an interview before any decision is taken.”

Power restored

Power supply to Dalsinghpara Tea Estate has resumed, reports our Jaigaon correspondent. The supply was disconnected on January 3 following non-payment of bills. Today, the management cleared one-third of the dues.

Source: The Telegraph