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2 Jan 2017

Estate goes cashless on centenary - Tea garden with 1,700 hands to make all payments through account transfer

Dhar (right) and Chakraborty at Majherdabri. 
(Anirban Choudhury) 
TT, Alipurduar, Jan. 1: The management of Majherdabri tea estate, which celebrated it's centenary today, announced that the garden had completely switched to a cashless system.
The management said labourers would get the next payment through account transfers and although they had to travel 7km to reach the bank at Alipurduar, soon, the garden would get an ATM and other facilities.
"We have around 1,700 workers and now, everyone has an account with the Bank of India. From today, Majherdabri will be a tea estate where wage disbursement would be done through cashless mode. We will not pay a single penny in cash from our office," garden manager Chinmoy Dhar said.
The garden was set up in 1917, sources said.
The management said payments for working extra hours or plucking additional tealeaves would also be transferred to labourers' accounts. "We have decided that we will deposit the additional sum in their accounts a couple of days after the (actual) wages are transferred," Dhar said.
Today, at a programme to celebrate 100 years of the garden, foundation stones for a Customer Service Point (CSP) and a mini ATM were laid. Sources said once the CSP became functional, workers would not have to travel to Alipurduar to draw cash.
Dhar said: "We thank the bank for deciding to set up the CSP and the mini ATM. We have requested the bank to set up another CSP in another division of our garden, around 4km from here."
Two Trinamul leaders who attended today's programme, however, did not speak about the switch.
"I am here not to attend (celebration of) the garden's change in wage disbursement system but to celebrate the centennial year. I am aware that all payments in estates cannot be cashless. The management needs cash to make some payments," Mohon Sharma, the sabhadhipati of Alipurduar zilla parishad, said. "We have learnt that there is delay and other inconveniences which workers have been facing for the past couple of months. The management and the bank must ensure that there is no delay."
Alipurduar MLA Sourav Chakroborty was also present.
Dahar said: "Our primary target is to build concrete houses for workers this year. As of now, around 70 per cent of the workers' quarters are temporary. We intend to host sports, a fair and some other events in the garden throughout the year."
He said, in 2001 and 2002, the average annual yield of tealeaves in the garden was around five quintals per hectare. "It increased to 29 quintal. Our target is to increase the production to 35 quintals," Dhar said.

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