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Exemptions for frozen account

Jaigaon, Dec. 24: The regional provident fund office in Jalpaiguri has allowed the management of Dalsinghpara Tea Estate to deposit the education stipend sent by the Tea Board and the salary savings of workers under an LIC scheme in its account, which has otherwise been attached.

The account was sealed after the garden management defaulted on provident fund dues of nearly Rs 76 lakh.

The regional provident fund commissioner II, Jalpaiguri, Gautam, said the account of the garden in the United Bank of India’s Birpara branch, was attached in August. It was done after the management failed to respond to several pleas to deposit the amount deducted from the workers’ salaries as provident fund.

“The garden management had given several undertaking before the high court that it would pay up the dues, which stood at Rs 75.26 lakh till March 2007, in instalments but failed to keep its word,” Gautam said.

Kalatush Kullu, the unit president of the National Union of Plantation Workers, an Intuc affiliate, said because of the frozen account many schoolchildren had been deprived of the Tea Board stipend. “As it is we don’t get our salaries and ration on time. Now even schoolchildren are not getting their stipends. Last September, a draft of Rs 40,013 was sent by the board in the name of the garden manager. This was meant for distribution among nine students. The money is yet to be disbursed,” Kullu said.

A woman worker of the garden, Kabita Rana, said her son, Abhisek, who studies in Class XI at B.D. Memorial School in Jaigaon, was to have received Rs 7,334 as education stipend for one year.

Gautam said the representatives of several unions like the Intuc, Citu and the UTUC had appealed to him to exempt the education stipend and the salary savings scheme. “We found out that these two items had no bearing with the management and so gave them permission to use the account for these two purposes,” the regional commissioner said.

Sources in the garden said that the management was now operating through the account of the Dalmore Tea Estate, which is owned by the same Octavious Group. Their account, too, is in the same bank.

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