Srinathpur Tea Estate (Alipurduar), April 26: Srinathpur Tea Estate, situated 19 km from the town, resumed work today, four days after the scheduled date, as fixed at a tripartite meeting.
The 300 and odd workers are, however, not too sure how long their garden will remain open.
The estate in the Alipurduar block-II in the Samuktala police station area first closed down on October 30, 2002 when the management abandoned the garden, leaving the more than 300 workers unemployed. After a number of meetings between workers and planters, the garden reopened in January 2005 but again closed down in October 2005. Finally on April 18, in front of Manoj Saha, the assistant labour commissioner of Alipurduar, it was decided that the garden would reopen on April 22.
Since that day, the workers have been assembling at the estate gate, but to no avail. Finally the doors opened to them today. In the meanwhile, the labourers did not lose much time in forming a cooperative society, which they hope will help them during crisis in the future. 'We are happy that the estate has reopened finally, but we are not sure how long it will function,' said Dipak Soren, a worker. 'We promise to work hard, but the owner should also think of us.'
Bablu Mukherjee, the general secretary of NUPW, alleged that the garden was opened to woo voters before the elections. Sanjoy Bagchi, the secretary of the Dooars branch of the ITPA, however, said: 'The garden has been opened but not for election purpose. Otherwise, the owner would not have cleared the dues.'