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Garden faces closure over PF fund delay

A woman plucks leaves at Craigpark tea garden in Katigorah, Cachar district. Telegraph picture

Hailakandi: The fate of 500 employees and labourers of Craigpark tea garden at Katigorah in Cachar district is uncertain following a notice of the Assam Tea Employees' Provident Fund Organisation of the state government's labour department to close the garden because of non-payment of provident fund of its employees.

The organisation has asked the garden authorities to pay Rs 76 lakh as provident fund within December 21, failing which it will lock the garden.

An official of the labour department alleged that most of the tea gardens in Barak Valley have not deposited mandatory provident fund of their employees.

Only some responded to the notice and agreed to pay in instalments.

The labourers of Craigpark tea estate are in distress due to "indifferent attitude" of the administration.

In the first week of February, 2014, they forced the garden manager to leave the tea estate.

It was for the first time in Barak Valley that a manger of a tea estate was almost dragged out of his bungalow by agitated labourers. They were demanding payment of provident fund and other facilities, but the authorities did not heed their demands.

The owner of Kamakhya Tea Company of Calcutta, Shiv Kanai, was not available for comment.

The labourers of Craigpark tea estate have been passing days in extreme hardship since 2012 due to irregular payment and non-payment of provident fund.

They alleged that they had staged protests and demonstrations in the garden, but did not get any positive response from the authorities and the garden has incurred losses.

On September 23, Kalaincherra tea garden was locked by the labour department for not submitting provident fund dues of its employees.

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