The Alipurduar district administration has arranged for five bike ambulances for an equal number of tea estates in remote areas or on tough terrains so that patients from those areas can be taken fast to the nearest health centres and hospitals.
The bike ambulances, currently at the collectorate, will be taken to the tea gardens in a day or two.
“These bike ambulances will be of immense help to residents of these tea gardens. A patient can have an attendant seated in the bike ambulance along with the driver and can reach the nearest health centre swiftly for prompt medical intervention,” said Surendra Kumar Meena, the district magistrate of Alipurduar.
“People in adjoining areas of these tea gardens can also avail the bike ambulance service,” Meena added.
The tea gardens to get the bike ambulance include Dhawlajhora in Alipurduar-II block, New Lands in Kumargram, Torsha and Mechpara in Kalchini, and Majherdabri on the outskirts of Alipurduar town.
There are 64 tea estates in the district.
Over the past few months, the district administrations of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri have taken initiatives to improve healthcare facilities in tea gardens. These followed an announcement made by Trinamul’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee last year that the state government would work to help the tea population in various ways.
A political observer in the area said that health centres and crèches had been opened already. Crèches were urgently needed by women tea workers with small children. Bike ambulances for tough hilly terrains or remote places will also help people pragmatically, the observer said, adding that these initiatives would help Trinamul make its presence felt in the brew belt ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
In the tea belt, a considerable part of the population backed the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and also in the 2021 Assembly elections.
This support helped the saffron camp to win all three Lok Sabha seats in the tea belt (Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar and Darjeeling). Also, Trinamul could win only one Assembly seat (Malbazar) in the Assembly polls while the rest 12 seats went to the BJP.
For residents in the Buxa hills where there is no motorable road, the administration will give cane “palki (palanquin)” ambulances. People can carry a patient on the palki till Santalabari from where vehicles are available.
“Residents carry patients on bedsheets or on their backs on steep terrains. The palki can help them as four persons can carry a patient up to Santalabari,” said a source.