In the days when several tea gardens owned by the Duncan Group of Industries have put down their shutters due to alleged mismanagement and its workers are dying due to starvation, we find another tea estate in Bengal where each worker earns more than Rs 300 every day.
The Luxmi Tea Group, which has 18 tea estates across West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, has proved that there is still a tea garden left in Bengal where the workers are able to earn enough to support their family.
At present the Luxmi Tea Group has around 25,000 workers. According to information, the tea garden workers are financially stable and they have enough work in their hand.
Founded 1912 in Tripura, Luxmi Group produces 15 million kg of tea annually in Assam, Bengal and Tripura. The total area under cultivation is around 4132.73 hectares. It is a vertically integrated firm that markets its Narayanpur brand nationally. The firm has developed manufacturing, warehouse, retail distribution and packaging capability.
Not only that, Luxmi Group also provides accommodation, ration, electricity, education, health care and social protection to its workers and their family members for free of cost. Company chairman Dipankar Chatterjee is himself a tea planter for 40 years. He said, “Among all our tea gardens, 85 per cent of them have tea plants which are more than 60-year-old. The average age of tea plants is 35 years.”
Chatterjee said the company had never delayed to pay the salary of tea garden workers. On the other hand, the workers also try their level best to help the company to achieve the required target. Chandmani tea garden worker Soven Singh is an example. Singh had collected 58 kg tea whereas he was asked to collect 22 kg. As a result, from October 28 to November 9, Singh had earned more than Rs 300 daily.
According to information, the maharaja of Tripura had provided land for tea garden to Paresh Chandra Chatterjee, grandfather of the company’s executive director Rudra Chatterjee. During that time, the tea gardens belonged to English, Scottish and Irish people.
Paresh was the first Indian to own a tea garden in India. The Chatterjee family had started focusing on tea business after 1947. Dipankar got involved in his family business in 1968. Every year the company carries out replantation at over 6,800 acres of land.
Makaibari Estates, the oldest and most celebrated of the 87 gardens along the long and winding road to Darjeeling was acquired by the Luxmi Group around one-and-half years ago.