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24 Dec 2016

Official & school help girl get result

Chandana with her father (left) and Tripathi at Karala Valley Tea Estate on Friday. Picture by Biplab Basak
TT, Jalpaiguri, Dec. 23:  The daughter of a tea garden worker, who could not pay her admission fee for the new session because of delay in payment of wages following demonetisation, was not given marksheet today because of non-payment of dues.
The four-year-old child, however, got her report when the manager of Karala Valley Tea Estate gave Rs 2,000 to her father to clear the dues and the school officials who spoke to the labourer decided not to take the money and release the marksheet.
Asutosh Malo's daughter Chandana is an LKG student in a private preparatory school, about 1km from the garden.
Today, she went to collect her marksheet but the school authorities did not give it to her.
"As per the school's directive, we were supposed to pay Rs 1,460 as admission fees and other charges of the next session before the distribution of marksheets. Due to demonetisation, payment of wages has been delayed in the garden. So far, I have received wages for two fortnights and I have spent the money to run my family. Wages for three fortnights are due," Asutosh said.
He added that he had thought of clearing the school fees after getting the next payment.
"We were supposed to get another payment before Christmas but till date, we have not got it. As I could not clear the dues, the school withheld my daughter's marksheet. Today, she returned home crying. I was in a fix because she kept insisting that I get her result from the school," he said.
Finding no other alternative, Asutosh went to garden manager Sarbesh Tripathi who heard his problem and gave him Rs 2,000.
"Asutosh was perturbed and his daughter was still crying when he came to me. I did not think twice and handed him the money," Tripathi said. "I can understand the problems that the workers have been facing since last month."
Asutosh took the money and went to the school with his daughter. He spoke to the officials there and offered them the cash the manager gave.
"They, however, did not take the money. The officials sympathised with me and handed over my daughter's mark sheet to her," Asutosh said.
Shankar Das, the teacher in charge of the school, said they had initially overlooked the issue. "We are well aware of the problems that the tea workers are facing due to demonetisation. They are getting payments after several days. We appreciate the garden manager's gesture," Das said.
"After speaking to the girl's father in detail, we handed over the mark sheet to the child and admitted her to the next class. We did not take the money and we have assured the worker that he can pay the fees at his convenience," he added.
Workers of the garden also appreciated Tripathi's gesture. "We understand the problems faced by the management. His gesture to help the worker so that his daughter's studies are not affected is praiseworthy," said worker Raju Sahani.

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