Millennium Post

Limit in money withdrawals spells trouble for N Bengal tea estate owners

The limit of money withdrawal from current accounts has created trouble for the tea estate owners. The amount — Rs 50,000 per week is not enough to run the business, said the estate owners in North Bengal. It needs at least Rs 2-3 lakh per week to run the garden, claimed the estate owners.

The Indian Tea Association decided to send letter to RBI addressing their problems. The association said that India is known for its tea production. The Centre should give priority to this sector.

“We need cash; otherwise we cannot run the estate. The workers and labourers will leave the estate. The production will be stopped. No maintenance work can be done,” said S K Ghai, on behalf of Gondrapara Tea Estate in Alipurduar.

“We cannot buy medicines from shops for out labourers. We have no cash to buy fuel for trucks. The production is on hold,” said a manager of tea estate.

Recently, a tea estate shut its shop at Siliguri after being unable to pay wages to their workers a few weeks ago. At least 3,000 employees lost their jobs after the owners of Trihana Tea Estate, issued a notice mentioning their inability to run the estate during this period of demonetisation. However, the owners even escaped from the factory fearing labour unrest.

The owners of Turturi tea estate at Alipurduar were also compelled to shut their shops as they were unable to pay salary to workers some weeks back. The labourers, working there had gone for a cease work following the management’s decision to pay salary with old notes.

The cease work at Turturi was not a standalone incident as the North Bengal tea industry is facing severe problems soon after the Centre’s decision of demonetisation. 

The gardens in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars are facing severe problems as well. A number of tea gardens, which are supposed to make fortnightly wage payments in the next two-three days, have already withdrawn cash from banks, mostly in these two denominations. They are in a dilemma that they cannot disburse these notes among the workers.
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