Solar power to end garden water woes

Workers of two closed tea gardens — Kalchini and Chinchula — will soon get drinking water to be drawn by solar powered-pumps, thanks to funds sanctioned by Joachim Buxla, the RSP MP from Alipurduar.

The MP has sanctioned Rs 25 lakh from his local area development fund for the project.

In May, the government had provided electricity connection to the closed gardens only to run pump sets to collect drinking water. But soon a problem arose in paying the bills.

While the zilla parishad had said the operating management committee of the garden would pay the electricity bill, the committee passed the responsibility on the zilla parishad. Ultimately, no one paid the money and the power dues from Kalchini alone rose to Rs 2 lakh, prompting the power company to threaten to disconnect the line.

Worried workers had approached Buxla in December to arrange for pump sets that would be run by solar energy to draw water. The measure would also save them from paying the power bill, they had said.

Kalchini, closed since September 2005, has 2,003 workers. Chinchula is closed since November the same year and has 1,250 employees.

Buxla “recommended” the proposal to construct two overhead tanks with a capacity of 60,000 litres each in the two gardens to the district magistrate. On why Kalchini and Chinchula were selected, the MP said workers mostly from these two estates had requested him to solve their water problem. In 2007, the parliamentarian had sanctioned a similar project for the Bharnobari tea garden.

“Within days of my recommendation, the district magistrate sanctioned Rs 25 lakh for the project from the MP’s local area development fund. The pumps run by solar energy will draw water throughout the day,” Buxla said.

The work for the project will start this month and within 15 days the garden employees will start getting the water, Buxla said. “Pure drinking water is essential for everybody. It is not possible for the workers of the closed gardens to clear the electricity bill.”

The representatives of the agency, which will carry out the project, have surveyed the gardens, he said.

Aseswar Jha, a guard of the Kalchini garden, has expressed gratefulness to the MP. “We will benefit a lot once the project is completed,” he said.