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Revival roster ready for six tea gardens

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By Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 11.05.07

Calcutta, May 11: Six of the 14 closed tea gardens in the state will resume production, the Union minister of state for commerce and industry, Jairam Ramesh, said here today.

There are 33 closed gardens in the country, of which 17 are in Kerala, 14 in Bengal and two in Assam. A Tea Board study says the closure has affected 35,000 families, including 12,000 in the state.

The minister today held discussions on the relief package for the gardens. The meeting was attended by state labour minister Mrinal Banerjee, owners of the gardens, prospective buyers and representatives of trade unions and banks.

Ramesh said five of the six gardens would reopen by July. He said there would be no retrenchment. One garden in Kerala has resumed production, while nine more will open their gates on May 27.

“Reopening is not the solution to all problems but the first step is to get them (the gardens) on track,” Ramesh said. Surendranagar Tea Estates will be the first to reopen on May 17.

However, allegations of non-payment of dues have been levelled at the owner. Ramesh has asked the state labour department to conduct an inquiry into the dues within a month.

The Samsing and Bamondanga gardens, which have the same owner, will reopen on June 29. Samsing has 2,318 workers and Bamondanga, 1,180. The Kalchini and Raimatang gardens, belonging to Buxa Dooars Tea Company, are likely to reopen on July 15. Kalchini has 1,978 workers and Raimatang, 1,254.

Allahabad Bank will help the Tea Board to find a owner for the Chamurchi garden, which has 1,047 workers. The present owners have expressed their inability to run the garden.

The state government and the Tea Board are also looking for a buyer for the Raipur garden. There are 560 workers in the garden.

Allahabad Bank has identified a buyer for Bharnobari. The bank is working on a financial package for the garden.

For Sikarpur and Bhandarpur, the district magistrate of Jalpaiguri has initiated an inquiry into misappropriation of funds by the owners, while United Bank of India is working on a revamp package.