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21 Mar 2017

Workers eye garden land

TT, Siliguri, March 20: Workers of Simulbarie Tea Estate have said if the garden is not reopened by Thursday, they will encroach on the vacant plots of the plantation.
The representatives of the Bagan Bachao Committee, a common forum of workers and leaders of four trade unions which have base in the garden, today threatened the management and Darjeeling district administration that they would grab the vacant stretches of the estate if their demand was not fulfiled.
"If the management or district administration do not take steps to resume operations by Thursday, we will occupy all the vacant plots in protest. We want the garden to reopen," Kalyan Bagdas, the convener of the committee, said.
The management announced suspension of work on January 31 as a section of workers had illegally occupied a portion of the garden's land and did not allow planting of tea saplings in that area.
Prakas Sanyasi, another representative of the committee, said: "We met state minister Aroop Biswas and requested him to take necessary steps. We also held a meeting with the district magistrate of Darjeeling on March 15 and sought her intervention. But there has been no change in the situation. The workers have been jobless for over one and a half months and are finding it tough to run their families."
Told that takeing control of vacant plots in the garden was illegal, the representatives said there was no other option. "This is the only way to draw the administration's attention," Sanyasi said.

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