10 October 2012
Tea plantation workers demand food security in Jalpaiguri district
The issue of closure of tea gardens and their impact on food security became the focal point of the campaign in Jalpaiguri district, where programs were held on 9-10 October, 2012. The campaign in this district took off with gate meeting on 9 October at Bamandongo and Todoo, an estate that has faced closure twice earlier from 2005 to 2010. Further, a day before the Campaign, on 8 October 2012, the management once again abandoned the garden after a dispute over bonus. The meeting was organised by the Progressive Plantation Workers Union and the Progressive Tea Workers Union. Others present were Sushovan Dhar from New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI), Debjit Dutt from the National Alliance of PeopleⳠMovements, Molina Pramanick and Anuradha Talwar from Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS).
The next meeting was held at Dheklapara tea estate where 9 deaths took place between December 2011 and January 2012. Some of the issues raised in this meeting were irregular functioning of the Sahay programme in the garden which runs a community kitchen for the hungry and destitute, 2 more deaths in the past few months induced and aggravated by lack of regular food and medical care, irregular distribution of AAY grains under PDS, delay in payment of old age pension and no payment of special allowance of Rs.1500 under FAWLOI (Family Allowance for Workers in Locked Out industry). Decision was taken to organise a meeting in the first week of November to decide on the next course of action.
The next meeting with tea plantation workers was held at Dalmore tea estate, closed since 29 July 2012. No relief measures have started in the garden, and wages for work done in NREGA have been due for more than couple of months. The workers also decided to form a committee to save their garden (Bagan Bachao Committee) with representatives of all labour lines, unions and NGOs to take their struggle forward. Next meeting was at Ramjhora tea estate, where 93 hunger deaths were reported in last 7 years. Pending wages under MGNREGA for the last 6 months was a major concern here.
Today, a public meeting was organised in Kumlai Tea Estate in Nagrakata Block, Jalpaiguri, where 3 starvation deaths have been reported in the last 6 months. A deputation was held with the BDO, Nagrkata where a memorandum was submitted and demand was made to immediately disburse General Relief measures to all workers, clear due wages under MGNREGS and provide medical care services in the gardens.
PBKMS, SMS, Shramajivee Samanvay Committee and NTUI held a deputation with the ADM (Development) in Barasat, North 24 Parganas district. The issue of delay in payment of old age pension, delay in MGNREGS wages worth Rs.7crore were main points raised.
Bishnupur and Baruipur blocks in South 24 Parganas were covered by Udayani Social Action Forum, where particularly the issue of corruption under Annapurna scheme was bought to light. Foodgrains which should be distributed free of cost were sold at Rs. 2/kg.
Programs are also organised today in Malda district by Malda Sahayogita Samity, for which reporting would be done tomorrow.
Please find some photographs attached from the yatra in South 24 Parganas district.
For more details, please contact:༯i> ࠦnbsp; ࠦnbsp; ࠦnbsp; ࠦnbsp; ࠦnbsp; ࠦnbsp; ࠠ༯span>
Saradindu BiswasଠPh: 9433342488 ࠦnbsp; ࠼/p>