Tea Garden Festival at Naxalbari

At a time when 14 tea estates in north Bengal have been closed down for more than a year and others are lying in a moribund state, the Left front government in the state is all set to organize a tea garden festival at Naxalbari in Siliguri. The affair would cost the state exchequer Rs 10 lakh.

The three-day long festival, being organised by the state's backward class welfare department would begin on 28 January. The Assembly speaker, Mr Hashim Abdul Halim, would inaugurate the festival, which has been titled Rajjya Cha Bagicha Sramik O Banabasti Basi Loko Sanskriti Utsav- 2008 and would be held on the campus of the Nandaprashad High School.

As the name suggests, the three-day festival would showcase music and dance festivals by the tea garden workers and the forest communities. Besides this, seminar on problems and hardships of the workers would also be highlighted.

“The organisers are enthusiastic about the festival and are sure of its success. The Cha Bagicha Utsav would definitely be a big success. There would be no dearth of money as funds would be allotted by various local bodies across north Bengal,” said Ms Moni Thapa, sabhadhipati, Siliguri. The Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad is helping the backward class welfare department in organising the event.

According Mr Jagadish Roy, information officer, Siliguri, the festival would incur an expense of Rs 16 or even more than that. Obviously, the Opposition leaders are welcoming the festival with a pinch. “What an irony! On one hand, the state government remains a mute spectator as the workers of the closed tea estates suffer, but on the other hand, the same government is spending money for entertaining the plantation workers,” said Mr Aloke Chakravorty, president, Intuc, Darjeeling district committee.

The organisers, however, have points to counter the criticism. “It is not that the Cha Bagicha Utsav is being organised for the first time. Last year, the same was held at Banarhat in Dooars,” said Ms Thapa.

Source: The Statesman