Ambulances for two tea gardens in Alipurduar
The administration of Alipurduar — a district dotted with tea estates — on Friday introduced ambulance services from two gardens that are located in remote areas and announced that infrastructure would be developed at the hospitals of the two estates.
The initiatives are part of the announcements made by Trinamul MP and party all-India general secretary Abhishek Banerjee.
In September, Abhishek, while attending a public meeting organised in Malbazar of Jalpaiguri district, had asserted that the state government would take a slew of initiatives for the tea population of north Bengal.
Among these were identity cards for every tea worker, ambulance services from tea estates, improvement of infrastructure in tea garden hospitals and establishment of crèches where women workers can keep their children during their duty hours.
Accordingly, the state labour department took the task to hand over identity cards to the tea workers — a first-of-its-kind initiative by the state — and the work is still in progress. On Friday, the ambulance service was introduced.
“Today, two ambulances were launched for the residents of the Bundapani and Ramjhora tea estates (both located in the Madarihat block of the district). These will help the workers and their families a lot in accessing healthcare facilities, especially at night. We have also decided to develop the hospitals of Ramjhora and Malangi (a tea estate in Kalchini block) so that people of these gardens and neighbouring estates can get proper medical treatment,” said Surendra Kumar Meena, the district magistrate of Alipurduar.
The ambulances have been provided by the state government and will be run by the managements of the tea estates. The cost of each of these vehicles is Rs 9.45 lakh, said sources.
Bundapani is around 13km from the state general hospital of Birpara. Residents have to cross two rivers to reach Birpara from the garden. Ramjhora, on the other hand, is 11km from the state general hospital.
The hospital in Ramjhora, sources said, is closed while the one in Malangi is somehow running. “Only some basic treatments are available in Malangi. There are a number of tea estates in the surroundings of both these gardens. Infrastructure development of these hospitals will largely help the local population,” said an official of the district health department.
Residents of both gardens appreciated the initiative.
“During monsoon months, it is a tough task for us to cross two rivers. Also, it is difficult to find a vehicle at night to carry a patient to Birpara. Even if it is arranged, the charges are not affordable for a tea worker. This new service will be very beneficial to us,” said Sabita Munda, a worker of Bundapani.
Such initiatives by the administration indicate that Trinamul wants to meet Abhishek’s promises before the rural polls, political observers said.
“In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and in last year’s Assembly elections, the majority of the tea population had sided with the BJP. The panchayat elections are ahead and the Lok Sabha poll will be due in less than two years. Trinamul is pulling out all the stops to win back their support. These are effective initiatives that can help Mamata Banerjee’s party,” said an observer.