Ajoy Edwards seeks intervention from Mamata


Darjeeling: Continuing the indefinite hunger strike, Ajoy Edwards, Chairman of the Hamro Party, has written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asking for his intervention in the Kanchen View tea plantation standoff. He asked the Chief Minister to cancel the lease of the garden and build a satellite township there instead.

“I, on behalf of all workers at Kanchen View (Rangneet), would like to appeal to your kind person that in the best interest, it would be reasonable for the government to cancel the lease and come up with a comprehensive plan to establishment of a satellite township covering the entire tea garden area. This will not only meet the demands of the garden residents, but also solve the long-standing problem regarding the expansion and decongestion of the tea garden. city ​​of Darjeeling,” the letter to the Chief Minister reads.

Incidentally, the garden located on the outskirts of the city of Darjeeling had been facing a lockout since October 6, 2021. After tripartite talks between the operating unions, the management and the additional labor commissioner of North Bengal, the garden reopened on April 15 amid turmoil and a stint. hunger strike by the majority of the workforce with a 9-point charter of demands.

The Hamro party, which supports the agitation, has key members including President Ajoy Edwards and his wife, who have been on hunger strike since Friday. “Since the company of Agarwala Group, the current owners, took over the garden in 2008, the garden has been locked 12 times. This clearly proves that Agarwala Group is interested in cheap land and not in running the garden of tea and tea business,” Edwards said in the letter.

Party chairman Hamro said the workers welcome the government’s tea tourism initiative, but the current owners are flouting all standards set by the government on tea tourism, including the 2019 policy on tea tourism and allied enterprises. According to the standards, they should have NOCs of at least 10 screening committees. However, so far they don’t even have one,” Edwards said.

Although the policy states that 15% of fallow and unusable land can only be used for tea tourism purposes; “So far, according to the record, 22 acres of prime tea production land has already been uprooted. There are plans to uproot another 45 acres of land to make way for buildings and access roads,” Edwards said. The garden with about 99 workers has 223 acres under cultivation.

He said the current owners had given in writing that they would manage the tea tourism projects themselves, but everyone knows that two private companies have secured a 99-year lease on the land. The workers fear that their well-being will not be taken into account under these conditions.

The district administration appealed to workers to withdraw the hunger strike and insisted on a meeting between management and workers on April 20 to resolve the issue. The workers demanded that the meeting be held immediately, at an earlier date.

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