statesman news service
KURSEONG, 12 JUNE: Even after several meetings and efforts by the concerned authorities, the closed Ringtong tea estate is yet to be opened.
It was learnt that even the GJMM chief Mr Bimal Gurung had visited the tea estate previously and provided different aids to workers and also assured them that proper initiatives will be taken for the re-opening of the plantation. Later, under the directive of the CM Miss Mamata Banerjee, the then state Food and Agriculture minister Mr Jyoti Priya Mallik visited Darjeeling to take stock of the closed tea estates.
Accordingly, several efforts including a hunger-strike had been taken by the GJMM&’s trade wing Darjeeling Terai Dooar&’s Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) and the District Administration for the re-opening of the tea estate but the matter is still on the table.
Meanwhile, so far several meetings have been done between the representatives of the DTDPLU, Labour Department and the Management but the matter is yet to be solved.
Notably, Ringtong tea estate located near Sonada in Kurseong sub-division has remained closed since 19 December 1996. Reports said that after a month-long stir by the workers against the management regarding their payment, some angry workers had reportedly, first looted several belongings of the tea estate and later set the Ringtong tea factory on fire on 19 December 1996. Since then, it has remained closed.
However, even though the tea estate has remained closed, yet some works of the tea estate like tea plucking is going on by some section of the workers. These workers do get some money in return but without following the labour plantation act.
When asked regarding the present status of the tea estate, the DTDPLU general secretary Mr Suraj Subba said: "Efforts
are on for the re-opening of the tea estate and the matter is still on the negotiating table."
He also said: "After several meetings, the management was ready to re-open the estate with the 300 workers but we could not agree on it as the plantation had 944 workers earlier; hence we demand that at least 550 workers, including office staff, be engaged.”
The management could not be contacted for further comments.