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25 Jan 2017

CPM puts tea blame at govt door

TT, Siliguri, Jan. 24: Darjeeling district CPM leaders today criticised chief minister Mamata Banerjee, saying she and her government were "silent" about the plight of jobless tea workers and their families living in two closed estates in the Terai.
"The chief minister is inDarjeelingdistrict for the past three days. She has sanctioned fresh funds for the hills and announced formation of three more development boards. But despite her stay in the district, she has not said a word on the unemployed workers and their families in the closed gardens of Tirrihannah and Panighata in the foothills," Darjeeling district CPM secretary Jibesh Sarkar said today.
CPM leaders visited the Tirrihannah garden this morning and distributed relief among workers. The garden has been shut since December 8.
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"It is unfortunate that so far, only one state minister (state tourism minister Gautam Deb) has visited the garden. Instead of taking steps to reopen the garden, he has indulged in politics and blamed Citu for the closure of the garden, while insisting that workers and their families should join Trinamul," Sarkar said.
On December 8, the management of Tirrihannah abandoned the garden, alleging that some workers had stopped dispatching tea to auctions while demanding immediate payment of wages.
The move left around 1,200- permanent workers and another 1,300 casual workers without jobs.
The management had also served a notice, mentioning that wage payment had been delayed due to demonetisation. "It is to be noted that their wages were delayed because of demonetisation and for which banks could not arrange for funds on time," said the notice.
The state labour department has called one tripartite meeting to facilitate reopening the garden, but there has been no decision yet.
Gautam Ghosh, the general secretary of Citu-backed Darjeeling zilla Chai Kaman Mazdoor Union, said: "We have not heard any specific missive from the state to tea companies that own the two gardens."
In both the gardens, administrative sources said, food grains are being distributed by the block offices as relief. In Panighata, the administration has also held health camps.

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