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CM writes to Centre on shut estates

Siliguri, July 16: Mamata Banerjee today said she had written to the Centre seeking financial assistance to help improve living conditions of workers and their families in the closed tea estates of north Bengal.

The chief minister, who arrived at Bagdogra this afternoon, said the state had taken initiatives to take care of tea workers.

“The central government also has a role to play and help the jobless tea workers. We wrote to the Centre, Union minister of state for commerce and industries) yesterday, seeking financial assistance and rehabilitation package for workers and their families,” Mamata said.

Sources at Nabanna said Mamata has urged the Centre to bring some changes in existing acts so that a state government can take steps against errant garden owners, who shut down estates without proper reason.

“The chief minister mentioned in her letter to Nirmala Sitharaman that the condition of the shut estates was not that bad as it is shown by the owners. The owners often close down gardens to deprive workers. The chief minister wants that the state government should have some power to take steps against such owners,” said a source.

Sources said Mamata wanted the Centre to come forward to help the state in developing a rehabilitation package for workers of closed gardens.

Mamata today in Bagdogra said: “We will open a Shram Bhavan in Siliguri. Workers serving in north Bengal would benefit from the administrative infrastructure.”

The chief minister will attend a government event at Chowrasta tomorrow and is likely to leave for Calcutta on Saturday.