The Telegraph
Friday , July 25 , 2014
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Starvation in estates: Bose

Bose in Alipurduar on Thursday. (Anirban Choudhury)

Alipurduar, July 24: Left Front chairman Biman Bose today said residents of shut tea estates in the Dooars were not getting regular financial assistance and food grains for the past six-seven months and many had died for “lack of food”.

“From the print media I came to know that workers of shut gardens have said that they haven’t been getting assistance under FAWLOI (Financial Assistance for Workers of Locked Out Industries) and regular supply of food grains at subsidised rates for the past six-seven months. People have died for lack of food in the closed gardens in the Dooars,” Bose told journalists at the Alipurduar zilla parishad bungalow here today.

Asked about deaths on the closed estates during Left Front rule, Bose said: “During that period also, people died of starvation. To stop the deaths, the state government introduced FAWLOI. The amount was Rs 750 a month. It was doubled later (in 2010). Now, ministers claim that they introduced the scheme and the weekly distribution of rice at Rs 2 a kg per worker. It was started during the Left Front government.”

FAWLOI was introduced by the Left Front government in 2007.

At least 100 residents in the five shut tea gardens in the Dooars have died in the past six months.

Today, Bose said ministers visiting closed gardens along with government officials was unnecessary. He termed it as “waste of money”.

“It is more important to provide money and food grains at subsidised rates to the workers instead of visiting the gardens. The state government must see to it that workers of closed tea gardens get benefits on time,” he said.

Of the five closed tea gardens in the Dooars, Redbank, Dharanipur and Surendranagar estates belong to the Redbank Group. The other two shut gardens are Dheklapara and Bandapani. In Redbank alone, 34 residents have died in the past 10 months.

This morning, Bose and leader of Opposition, Surjya Kanta, Mishra attended a party meeting in Alipurduar municipality hall here.