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Parishad to seek CM help on tea

Feb, 3: Leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today held a meeting at Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri to plan the reception of the chief minister at Malbazar on February 12 and said they would take up the issue of deprived tribal garden workers with her.

The event was supposed to be held in Nagrakata on February 25 but later postponed.

“We would welcome and felicitate the chief minister in a traditional manner. She has proved her sincerity by taking up a series of measures (to improve the condition of the tribals) and endorsing some of the demands raised by us,” Birsa Tirkey, state president of the Parishad, said. “We would also hand over a list of proposals to her. These proposals, if implemented, would help the tribals and north Bengal as a whole.”

He added that for the past 200 years, tribals had been serving the tea industry in the Dooars and Terai but most of them did not get housing, power, medicines, fuel and ration.

“Our people have been working sincerely over generations but a section of owners is depriving the workers of their rights as per the provisions of the Plantation Labour Act. We will put this issue before the chief minister and seek her intervention,” Tirkey said.

During the Left Front rule, the tribal development department was shut and instead, the SC and ST department, which was later renamed other backward classes department, was opened. “Despite such a department, the tribals were deprived of the development schemes. But our present chief minister took the initiative to form a tribal development department and the Tribal Advisory Council with representatives of our community. She herself is in charge of the department. It is an excellent effort and we intend to felicitate her for it,” he said.

Jalpaiguri district magistrate Pritha Sarkar said the Malbazar event would be organised by the backward classes department. “Parishad has been permitted to felicitate the chief minister,” she said.

Chandan Bhowmik, Jalpaiguri district Trinamul president, said: “We expect a huge turnout of tribals. The chief minister is likely to make announcements for tribal development. Thousands of tribal people have already expressed solidarity and we are hopeful that our support base would increase in the coming days.”