Centre should take initiative for tea estates’ revival: Trinamool

Kolkata, Jan 5 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress on Tuesday stressed the need for amending the Plantations Labour Act, and called upon the Centre to revive ailing tea gardens in the state.

“Under the Plantations Labour Act, it has been provided that, under certain circumstances, the central government or the Tea Board can assume the control of a tea estate. Revival of the tea estates has to be a joint effort by both the Centre and the state governments and the Centre has to take the initiative,” Trinamool secretary general and state Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said.

Chatterjee on Monday held discussion with union Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who, during her two-day visit, took stock of the situation of ailing tea estates in Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts.

“Tea industry is very important for the state and the chief minister has urged the Centre several times for a special package under the NABARD. She also had stressed the need for amending the Plantations Labour Act,” said Chatterjee.

With Sitharaman proposing making suitable changes in the plantation law, Chatterjee welcomed the move.

“The law needs to be amended so that the benefits under the Food Security Act, Right to Food Act and the likes can be extended to the workers.

“It is a welcome step that the union minister has agreed to look into the issue of making suitable changes in the law,” said Chatterjee.

Assuring revival of ailing tea estates, Sitharaman on Monday proposed setting up a committee comprising representatives from the state and central governments and the Tea Board for the monitoring of the tea gardens.

Affirming the Centre’s commitment towards solving their issues, Sitharaman assured the workers of ensuring increase in the minimum wages and making suitable amendments in the plantation act.

Several tea estates have closed down leaving thousands of workers in deep distress. Many deaths allegedly due to malnutrition or starvation have also been reported from some of the estates.

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