Two tea gardens were reopened in the Dooars on Wednesday, 49 days after the estates had been shut down
The gardens are Samsing and Bamandanga-Tondu, which are located in the Matiali and Nagrakata blocks of the Jalpaiguri district, respectively. Suspension of work was declared on the estates, which are owned by the same company, on October 3.
The decisions were taken after labourers had resorted to agitations against the “lower” bonus rates announced by the management. The workers didn’t get the bonus and their wages became due following the plantations’ closure.
Samsing has 1,460 workers and Bamandanga-Tondu has 1,174 labourers.
“When gardens were closed, we worked as casual labourers on other tea estates or did odd jobs to run our families. That a new owner took over the gardens is a great relief for us,” said Gita Mahali, a woman worker at Bamandanga-Tondu.
After Durga Puja, the state government started scouting for a new investor who could take over the two estates. Bulu Chik Baraik, the Bengal minister for tribal affairs and backward classes welfare who is from Malbazar, and some other Trinamul Congress leaders, joined the initiative.
“Eventually, we found an investor and reopened the gardens today (Wednesday) in his presence,” said Baraik.
He said efforts would be taken to reopen other tea gardens which had been closed down in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts before Durga Puja.
Rittick Bhattacharya, the new owner, said the bonus would be disbursed at the rate of nine per cent among the workers of both the gardens on Thursday. “We will clear the wage dues and expect cooperation from workers,” he said.