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Tea pals to garden aid

Dheklapara, Dec. 16: A group of eight friends who came to know about the plight of Dheklapara tea workers through various media today handed out rice, blankets and mosquito nets for the residents of the closed estate.

Each of the residents of the Nepania division, or out division, of the estate got 4kg of rice, two blankets, s mosquito net and salt packet.

Among the visitors to Dheklapara were traders, railway employees and other state officials. Their visit to give out 10 quintals of rice, 250 blankets, 300 packets of salt was a private initiative, they clarified.

Bibek Bose, an inspector in the food and supply department at Alipurduar, was among the visitors. As was Dipak Saha, a railway employee residing in Alipurduar.

“From different media we came to know that the people of the Dheklapara tea estate, especially in Nepania division, were in severe crisis. We are the group that gossips in the evening at a tea stall. We discussed just three days ago if we could do something for the workers. Everybody agreed and we made our contributions,” Saha said.

He added: “Next month, we will come again with clothes and a medical team. We will try to distribute foodgrains also among other workers in the near future.”

Another private group, the Siliguri Welfare Organisation, organised a camp in Nepania division today.

Their members brought three doctors with them who conducted the health check-up and prescribed medicines, also which were distributed at the camp free of cost.

Joydeep Dasgupta, the secretary of the organisation, said: “Last November 25, we came with relief to the Dheklapara main garden where we saw that 80 per cent of the 323 patients were suffering from malnutrition. Then we came to know about Nepania and we decided to hand over relief here.

The last time the Nepania division received any aid was on November 14, when a Jalpaiguri-base welfare group visited the place.

The former employees of the closed tea estate have been receiving a kg of rice and wheat each from the government.

Dukhini Lohar a worker in the garden said: “I pray to god to bless the people who came to day and distributed so many things. We cannot arrange two square meals for our families. The rice distributed in the ration shops is of poor quality and the quantity has decreased to 1kg from 2kg per head in a week. There is no medical assistance in the garden. This is the first time we have received so many things on the same day.”

Vivek Bose, a food supply inspector in Alipurduar who came with the group, said: “This is an absolutely a private initiative.” At another closed tea estate, Dalmore, a senior programme officer of the ILO, K.S. Ravichandran, spoke to workers. Ravichandran said: “The people in Dalmore are going through a severe crisis. The government should come forward on humanitarian grounds to provide relief to these people.”