A day after the Centre took over the 7 Duncan tea gardens, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also expressed happiness over the Centre’s decision and said that steps should be taken to ensure that the gardens function normally.
Mamata Banerjee had earlier written to the Prime Minister urging him to take steps to resolve the issue in tea gardens.
BJP MP from Darjeeling,S S Ahluwalia on Saturday said the Union ministry of Commerce and Industry has asked the Tea Board to take over the management of seven tea estates in North Bengal adding that while seven tea estates were being served notice, the same process will be followed in other closed plantations in future. The concerned plantations were Birpara, Hamtapara, Garganda, Lankapara, Dhumchipara and Dimdima and the move was initiated on January 28 as per provisions of the Tea Act, 1953. To a question about the fate of other 31 tea estates closed in the region, it was stated that they will be managed by Tea Board but the owners will have to clear pending dues to workers otherwise the law will take its own course. Meanwhile, Tea Labourers' Joint Coordination Forum Convenor Mani Kumar Durnal welcomed the step but wanted to know the modalities to immediately maintain the plantations keeping in view the leaf plucking season in February. UTUC Chairman Nirmal Das said: "While notification has been issued for seven tea gardens that is not enough. Since altogether 38 tea estates had been closed and there is no clear cut indication about the fate of the rest.”
The Centre had on Friday announced the taking over of seven tea gardens by the Tea Board. Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State for Commerce (independent charge) had said in Delhi that the main objective was now to open the closed gardens. It may be mentioned that state BJP leaders sought her intervention during her trip to North Bengal in October last year. Following this a team from centre had visited the tea gardens and gave a report to the ministry.