4 Dooars gardens find buyers

A meeting held in Calcutta today raised the hopes that at least four of the 12 closed tea estates in the Dooars would be taken over and reopened soon by new entrepreneurs.

At the meeting held at the Tea Board of India headquarters, the representatives of the closed gardens briefed the officials of various central and state government departments on the progress they had made in finding new owners to take over the plantations.

“Many prospective buyers are holding negotiations with the current owners of the closed gardens and it appears that at least four of them are interested in acquiring and reopening different estates,” G.Boriah, the director (tea development) of the board, said over phone from Calcutta.

Boriah said the representatives of Samsing, Chinchula, Sikarpur and Bhandapur and Dheklapara had informed the meeting that they had found new buyers who were ready to reopen the gardens.

In the case of Sikarpur and Bhandapur estate, the person, who expressed the willingness to buy it, put forward a condition that he should be allowed to earmark 1,000 acres to develop a knowledge city.

“Although there are many issues which are yet to be sorted out, the presence of investors has left us hoping that the closure of the gardens will end soon,” Boriah said.

On the remaining eight plantations, Boriah said the government was likely to issue an advertisement soon, inviting expression of interest to take over Kanthalguri. Regarding Ramjhora, there are still some pending cases that need to be disposed of before a move could be made for its sale. Kalchini, Raimatang and Redbank estates did not send any representatives to attend the meeting.

What impedes the speedy reopening of Chamurchi and Raipur is that their owners are yet to make final settlements with their bankers. “Officials of these banks were present at the meeting and detailed the liabilities of the closed gardens,” Boriah said.

The representatives of Bamandanga-Tondu — the last estate to be closed in the Dooars — said they were hunting for a new owner.