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Tea workers told to leave

Jorhat, Nov. 24: The labourers of Borbheta Field Experimental tea estate, popularly known as Neemona tea estate, here have expressed shock over the management’s notice to a few labourers to vacate their residential quarters before November 30.

The garden belongs to Tocklai Experimental Station and is located near the Assam Agricultural University in Borbheta.

“Our forefathers came here more than a hundred years back. We have made the garden our home. We have nowhere to go now,” Diganta Naidu, a youth told The Telegraph today.

This is probably the first time in the history of the tea industry in Assam that garden authorities have directed labourers to vacate their quarters. Authorities of the Tocklai station recently issued notices to 22 families of garden workers to vacate their quarters within November 30 and also threatened to use force.

The 90-hectare garden, where the station carries out research work, has about 200 labourers. Shocked by the notices, the workers organised a public meeting at the garden a few days back and decided to approach the management. They also decided to launch an agitation if the management did not withdraw the notices and demanded permanent land pattas. They have also approached the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) seeking help.

Paresh Naidu, another youth of the tea estate, said unemployment has been increasing in the garden since the authorities have not recruited anyone for several years now. “Although my parents retired a long time back, I was not recruited to work in the garden,” he said.

An official of the administrative wing at Tocklai said that notices were issued to a few labourers since they have been constructing houses illegally. “We have information that some workers have given a few quarters out on rent. How can we allow that?” he asked.

Paresh, however, said as the population has increased in the garden over the years, they had no other option but to construct new houses in the premises of the quarters allotted to their parents.

“The garden authorities have not carried out any repair work on the quarters for several years now. We are carrying out repairs on our own and constructing new houses on the same premises allotted to our parents. We have no option as our families are increasing,” he said.