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Monday meet for tea plan

Siliguri, Nov. 8: The committee formed for acquisition of closed tea gardens will meet at New Delhi on Monday to screen the feedback received from planters in Bengal.

Led by O.P. Arya, the additional secretary of the Union commerce and industry ministry, the committee was formed to acquire the gardens by invoking Section 16(E) of the Tea Act, 1953.

“Of the 13 closed gardens in West Bengal, we had served showcause notices to 11. The state will take care of Kanthalguri and Ramjhora, the leases of which have been cancelled,” said G. Boriah, the director (tea development) of the Tea Board. “All the gardens have replied. The committee now plans to scrutinise the replies on Monday and to decide on their future plan of action.”

Though Boriah refused to divulge more, sources said most owners have quoted common problems like lack of funds and excess labour force leading to high cost of production that affected the plantations and factories.

Trade union leaders, who were eagerly waiting for the gardens to reopen, voiced their dissatisfaction. “Ministers and officials have made several commitments over past one year but nothing has improved for the workers,” said Chitta Dey, the convener of the Coordination Committee of Tea Plantation Workers.

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