The West Bengal government has agreed to extend all cooperation to the management of Duncan Group to run its tea gardens, after the management assured the state to pay dues of the workers and infuse Rs 70 crore to run their gardens properly.
The Chief Minister gave GP Goenka, Chairman, Duncan Goenka Group an ultimatum to reopen 14 tea gardens that had become non-functional since April. No time frame has been given, but Duncans will have to pay all dues and even open public kitchens for workers suffering from malnutrition.
“The state government will provide all support to the management of Duncan Group to run their tea gardens. The management has also agreed to pay all dues of the workers,” state Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee said.
The decision was made after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with Goenka, at the state secretariat Nabanna on Friday.
Earlier, the CM expressed concern over the death of the tea garden workers and called Goenka to discuss the matter.
Annoyed with the deaths of tea garden workers following malnutrition, the CM even threatened to take over the control of the gardens, if the management was unwilling to run them properly.
Expressing satisfaction with the development in the meeting, Goenka said, “The meeting with the CM was very positive. She was extremely cooperative and discussed on several issues.”
Goenka said that he had discussed with the CM to invest a fund of Rs 70 crore over a period of time in all their 14 gardens for an overall development and their proper functioning.
Decision has also taken to provide free lunch to all elderly people above 45 years age in their 14 gardens, he said.
State Finance and Industry minister Amit Mitra, among others, was present in the meeting. When Duncan’s 14 gardens suddenly went into limbo eight months ago many labourers were in a fix, receiving no wages as well as no medical assistance. 200 have died since October, unions claim, with 10 people dying last week.