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Has the government failed the tea garden workers of Jalpaiguri?

Friday, 29 March 20130 comments

Has the government failed the tea garden workers of Jalpaiguri?

All is not well with the tea gardens of Jalpaiguri district in North Bengal. Several tea estates in the region have been shut for over a decade with little chance of the economic revival of the gardens. There is rampant unemployment coupled with acute malnutrition. In a bid to save themselves from perpetual apathy, 15 workers have written to the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to let commit suicide so that they can die in peace.

One of the tea gardens in case is the Dheklapara tea estate. A ground report revealed the pathetic condition in which the people are forced to live. Most of them are suffering from disease and malnourishment with little to rest their hopes on.

The villagers go to the nearby Kalwa River to work in the rock quarry, but that does not offer them any relief. The back breaking work gives them as little as Rs 40 a day. In desperation, the villagers’ have sought to fast unto death if their condition is not looked after by the administration.
The abysmal condition of the tea gardens often gives rise to another problem – trafficking of women and children.  There are several reports of cases of rape but victims are forced to stay silent for fear of reprisals against their families. Many women are allegedly trafficked to cities under the guise of finding them work through placement agencies.
The West Bengal government might claim that the political deadlock in North Bengal has been solved but these workers have little to gain from that.
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