Siliguri, July 13: A Calcutta-based NGO that has conducted surveys on five shut tea estates in the Dooars has written to ministers Jyotipriya Mullick and Malay Ghatak seeking their intervention to stop deaths in the gardens.
Since the last week of June, two persons have died in two shut gardens. Also in Raipur tea estate, six persons died in a single week last month.
The garden has since got a new owner.
The NGO, Right to Food and Work Campaign West Bengal, wrote that at least 12 residents in the five estates were critically ailing and needed “immediate nutritional and medicinal support”.
“We visited the gardens between July 8 and 11. On the first day, we found Mahesh Goala from Bandapani Tea Estate in a pathetic state. He died the next day. At least 12 people need immediate medical care,” Anuradha Talwar, a representative of the NGO, said. “We have written to state ministers urging for their intervention to save people from dying.”
From July 8 to 11, the NGO sent reports on their daily findings to government agencies.
The list of 12 ailing people includes five women. Among the 12, four each are from Dheklapara and Dharanipur gardens, two from Bandapani and one each from Surendranagar and Red Bank.
“Most of them are either paralysed or have fractured limbs. It is difficult for them to get food. Some can barely talk because of weakness. Malnourishment is clearly evident,” an NGO representative said.
The NGO report has come at a time four ministers are supposed to visit the five shut estates.
On July 15 and 16, north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb, minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya, state food minister Mullick and labour minister Ghatak are scheduled to visit all the five gardens.
“We are putting our best efforts to provide uninterrupted food supply and health care to residents of the closed gardens. I, along with three other ministers, will visit the gardens in the next couple of days to know if there are any gaps with regard to the assistance provided by the government. It would be taken care of immediately,” Deb said.
Of the five shut gardens, three are in Jalpaiguri district and two are in Alipurduar.
Today, Binayak Sen, a human rights activist and a doctor, urged political parties in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts to launch a movement to improve the living condition of residents of the closed estates.
“Several workers and their families are living with malnutrition and starvation,” Sen said.