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Dheklapara tea estate again without management because of huge expenses incurred in the past few months

Banglarjhar Tea Company Limited, which is based in Siliguri, reopened garden on March 15 after signing agreement with trade unions of Trinamul Congress and BJP

Our Correspondent Alipurduar Published 13.09.23, 06:00 AM
A building in the Dheklapara tea plantation

A building in the Dheklapara tea plantation File picture

A company that had taken over a tea garden in March after the plantation's closure for 20 years informed the Bengal labour department on Monday that it was no longer able to run the estate because of huge expenses incurred in the past few months.

The Dheklapara estate is located in the Birpara-Madarihat block of Alipurduar district and has over 300 workers.


The Banglarjhar Tea Company Limited, which is based in Siliguri, reopened the garden on March 15 after signing an agreement with the trade unions of the Trinamul Congress and the BJP.

When the garden closed down 20 years ago, it had 604 permanent workers. The figure declined over the years and eventually, only 288 workers were left in Dheklapara.

The Siliguri company disbursed Rs 1,000 to each labourer as an incentive when the estate reopened and paid wages every fortnight, as is the practice in most tea gardens.

However, the company wrote a letter to the assistant labour commissioner of Birpara on Monday, saying the management had incurred expenditure to the tune of around Rs 76 lakh since March for various purposes ranging from re-plantation of tea bushes to payment of wages and salaries to the workers and staff. On the other hand, the letter said, the company could earn only Rs 44 lakh.

“Moreover, we have our practical study and experience that we cannot arrange to bear the liability any further and therefore decided to withdraw from the responsibility of running this garden w.e.f 11/09/2023 (sic),” reads the letter.

The Banglarjhar Tea Company informed the labour department, district administration and police that it didn't have any problem if any other firm or individual took over and ran the Dheklapara estate.

The workers said they had not received wages in the past month.

“After 20 years, the garden reopened. We were extending all help to the new management and had no inkling that the company would take such a decision. The administration should intervene immediately,” said Swapan Samjhar, a worker of Dheklapara.

Nakul Sonar, the chairman of the Trinamul Cha Bagan Sramik Union, said its representatives would speak with the management to resolve the crisis at the earliest.

Manoj Tigga, the local BJP MLA, said the party's trade union had joined the talks which had facilitated the reopening of the garden after two decades. “We will put all our efforts to reopen the garden. The administration should also take effective steps so that workers do not become jobless again,” said Tigga.

Sources in the district administration said they were looking into the matter.

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