Thapa, Bista flag wage dues in gardens
Prominent political leaders in the hills on Friday flagged the non-payment of wages to over 7,000 workers of 10 tea estates which are run by the Darjeeling Organic Tea Estates Private Limited (DOTEPL).
While Gorkhaland Territorial Administration chief executive Anit Thapa wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee seeking the cancellation of the land lease of the 10 gardens, Darjeeling MP Raju Bista, along with a delegation of BJP leaders, met Union commerce minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi and pleaded for his intervention.
In his letter, Thapa said the workers and their family members were facing hardships as the management stopped paying the wages around two months back.
“Meetings have been held at different levels to resolve the crisis. However, as there has been no change in the situation, the land lease of these gardens should be cancelled and financial aid should be provided to the workers,” he has said in the letter.
The MP and the BJP leaders, on the other hand, have requested Goyal to invoke the Tea Act of 1953 and take over the 10 gardens or ask the state government to run the estates through West Bengal Tea Development Corporation.“We also said if needed, workers’ cooperatives could be formed on these tea estates. We requested the minister to constitute an expert committee under the Tea Board to ascertain the ground situation and find out why these gardens are facing such a crisis,” said Bista.
He claimed that the minister had assured that a committee would be sent to examine all issues related to the tea sector in the region and he would ask for a detailed report.“He will also take up all issues with the Tea Board and the central government,” said Bista.