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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 22, 2007
A reprieve for 15000 West Bengal tea garden workers
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A reprieve for 15000 West Bengal tea garden workers

With the Government deciding to re-open five tea gardens in West Bengals Jalpaiguri District, tea garden labourers who were out of work, are heaving a sigh of relief.

Jalpaiguri (West Bengal), May 22 : With the Government deciding to re-open five tea gardens in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri District, tea garden labourers who were out of work, are heaving a sigh of relief.

Around 15,000 tea garden workers stand to benefit from the decision, which has taken eight years to fructify.

Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh had announced the decision to re-open the five locked tea gardens in Jalpaiguri, which had remained closed since 1999.

The process of re-opening the tea gardens has started with the 172 hectare Surindernagar Tea Estate being re-opened. The Kalchini and Raimatong tea gardens will re-open on June 29 and the Samsing and Bamondanga tea gardens will re-open on July 15.

Alok Chakrabarty, the President of National Union of Tea Plantation Workers, expressed his satisfaction over the re-opening of tea gardens, saying it is a welcome development.

"This is a victory of the labourers. With the re-opening of the five gardens, we are happy. We want the other nine to open soon," said Madan Sarki, a worker.

Labourers have charged the State Government with not taking sincere steps to re-open the remaining tea gardens.The fate of 30,000 workers is linked with these gardens, the managements of which, have piled up liabilities worth Rs. 237 crore in provident fund and bank dues.

These gardens have a locked up area of 11,449 hectares.Tea is indigenous to India and is a product where the country can take a lot of pride because of its pre-eminence as a foreign exchange earner and its contribution to GNP.

In all aspects of tea, - - production, consumption and export, India has emerged a world leader. The country accounts for 31 percent of global tea production.

It is perhaps the only industry where India has retained its leadership over the last 150 years.

The range of tea offered by India - from the original Orthodox to CTC and Green Tea, from the aroma and flavour of Darjeeling Tea to the strong Assam and Nilgiri Tea- remains unparalleled in the world.

The total turnover of the Indian tea industry is around Rs. 10,000 crores. Since independence tea production has grown over 250 percent, while land area has just grown by 40 percent.

There has been a considerable increase in export too in the past few years. Total net foreign exchange earned per annum is around Rs. 1847 crores.

The labour intensive tea industry directly employs over 1.1 million workers and generates income for another 10 million people approximately. Women constitute 50 percent of the workforce.

Tea trading in the domestic market is done in two ways- Auction and Private Selling. Market Reports are received from the six major auction centres in India, namely, Kolkata , Guwahati, Siliguri, Cochin, Coonoor, Coimbatore and N.I. Bulk trading is done through the auctions held in these centres.


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