The state labor minister, who was in Madarihat in Alipurduar district, held a meeting with officials from different departments at the local tourist lodge.
Posted 01.12.21, 01:25 AM
Six tea estates closed for months will reopen soon, state Labor Minister Becharam Manna said on Tuesday.
Manna, who was in Madarihat in Alipurduar district – located about 50 km from here – held a meeting with officials from different departments at the local tourist lodge. He was briefed on works such as the Cha Sundari (free housing program for tea workers), the linking of the tea workers’ Aadhaar card to their provident accounts and the identification of unused land in the plantations that can be used for tourism.
âIn North Bengal, 14 of the 282 tea plantations are closed. We are doing everything we can to facilitate their reopening. Six tea plantations will reopen soon, âManna said.
The gardens include Madhi and Bundapani from Alipurduar, Surendranagar from Jalpaiguri and three in the hills, sources from the state labor department said.
At present, around 8,500 workers in these gardens receive Rs 1,500 each month from the state under the FAWLOI (Financial Assistance to Workers in Locked-Out Industries) program.
During the meeting, Manna also stressed the need to provide potable water to residents of some of the gardens which still depend on natural sources.
âIt was discovered that there are 37 gardens where potable water supply is not currently available. The state PHE department has already taken the initiative to develop drinking water projects for each of these gardens and has prepared detailed project reports. They will soon start work on these projects, âsaid the Minister.
He also said that officials from the land and land reform departments of the tea growing districts of Bengal – Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and North Dinajpur – had been urged to start identifying unused land in tea plantations where facilities tourism could be developed.
The state government increased the cap on land that can be used for tourism in tea gardens from 5% to 15% in 2019.
Manna will attend another meeting at the same location on Wednesday to discuss the issue of minimum wage in the tea sector.
In 2015, the state government formed an advisory committee to recommend the minimum wage rate to the state, but no decision has yet been made.
âRepresentatives of tea planter associations, trade unions and officials from the labor department will be present at the meeting. We expect a positive development tomorrow, âa source told the Ministry of Labor.