Assam CM directs state officials to ensure tea garden workers receive bonuses before Durga Puja

Guwahati (Assam) [India], October 13 (ANI): Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday in a meeting with District Collectors (DCs), and Superintendents of Police (SPs) via video conferencing in Guwahati directed the officials to ensure tea garden workers receive bonuses at the fixed rate before Durga Puja.

In a series of tweets, the Chief Minister’s office informed that Sonowal also reviewed the preparations for giving ‘land pattas’ to 1 lakh landless indigenous families by December 2020.

“Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal reviewed the progress of various schemes in a meeting with DCs and SPs via video conferencing in Guwahati. Inter alia, preparations for giving land pattas to 1 lakh landless indigenous families by December this year was deliberated in the meeting,” the CMO tweeted.

“The Chief Minister directed officials to ensure tea garden workers receive bonuses at the fixed rate before Durga Puja and ensure that all eligible beneficiaries avail benefits of schemes like Arundhati and Orunodoi,” it said in another tweet.

Sonowal further directed the officials to give special attention to law and order situation during Durga Puja and asked them to take steps to cooperate with the public during the festival.

“Reviewing law & order situation in the districts, the CM directed officials to give special attention to the same during Durga Puja festivities. The CM directed officials to take steps to cooperate with the public in observance of Durga Puja rituals and create awareness about following #COVID19 protocols,” CMO said.

CMO added that the Chief Minister further directed the officials to take necessary steps to expedite the issuance of Aadhaar card in all districts of the state.

The week-long festivities for Durga Puja will begin from October 22. (ANI)

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Assam court holds 25 guilty in lynching of 73-yr-old tea garden doctor last year – cities

A court in Assam on Monday pronounced 25 people guilty in a case, where a mob had lynched a senior doctor around 13 months ago.

District and sessions judge Robin Phukan held 25 of the accused guilty for the murder of Dr Deben Dutta (73). The victim was the resident doctor of Teok Tea Estate (TE) hospital in Upper Assam’s Jorhat district.

The court acquitted six accused in the case, while another accused had died in judicial custody.

Also read: Two lynched, beheaded, set on fire over witchcraft suspicion in Assam

The quantum of punishment for the 25 accused will be announced next Monday (October 19).

An irate mob, mostly comprising tea garden workers, had assaulted Dr Dutta on August 31, 2019, holding him responsible for the death of a patient in Teok TE. He was rushed to the Jorhat Medical College, where he was declared brought dead.

The pictures of the assault, which soon went viral on social media, created a sense of terror among doctors posted in tea gardens across Assam.

At least seven doctors, who were working in tea gardens, had resigned within a week of Dr Dutta’s murder.

Police had arrested 32 people, including three brothers of the deceased patient, following the attack under various sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Assam Medicare Service Persons & Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Act, 2011.

The incident was condemned by Indian Medical Association (IMA) and doctors in Assam also resorted to a one-day token strike in protest.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had also ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Investigation into the case was concluded within a record time of 21 days and a voluminous 602-page charge sheet was submitted on September 21, 2019.

Assam Police said this is the first case in the country, where witness identity concealment approach was used.

A total of 60 people, including tea garden employees, journalists, the slain doctor’s family members, police personnel and forensic experts were named as witnesses.

Witness identity concealment approach was applied to seven of the 56, who had deposed during the trial of the case.

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Jalpaiguri tea garden suspends operation, leaves 1,500 people jobless

JALPAIGURI :
The Saili Tea Estate in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district suspended operations on Monday, leaving around 1,500 people jobless ahead of the festive season, officials said.

The management put up a suspension of work notice at the main gate in the morning, workers at the tea estate said.

Negotiations were underway for the Durga Puja bonus and the operations were suspended amid the talks, they said.

The management refused to give 20% bonus to the workers as being given by the other tea gardens, they added.

The workers were offered 15.5% bonus, which led to protests at the tea garden a few days back.

“When we arrived for work in the morning, we saw the suspension of work notice at the gate. Also, the garden officials have left, following which protests started,” said Swapna Pradhan, a worker of the tea estate.

Officials of the Malbazar police station were at the spot to tackle the situation.

The workers demanded resumption of operations and payment of 20% bonus, threatening to intensify their agitation.

“If the administration does not take immediate action, we will boycott the next year’s assembly elections. We do not get any benefit, neither do we get fair pay. We need 20% bonus and the garden has to be opened before the Durga Puja,” said Shanta Kujur, another worker at the garden.

The garden authorities could not be reached for comments.

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Jalpaiguri tea garden suspends operation, 1,500 left jobless- The New Indian Express

By PTI

JALPAIGURI: The Saili Tea Estate in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district suspended operations on Monday, leaving around 1,500 people jobless ahead of the festive season, officials said.

The management put up a suspension of work notice at the main gate in the morning, workers at the tea estate said.

Negotiations were underway for the Durga Puja bonus and the operations were suspended amid the talks, they said.

The management refused to give 20 per cent bonus to the workers as being given by the other tea gardens, they added. The workers were offered 15.5 per cent bonus, which led to protests at the tea garden a few days back.

“When we arrived for work in the morning, we saw the suspension of work notice at the gate. Also, the garden officials have left, following which protests started,” said Swapna Pradhan, a worker of the tea estate.

Officials of the Malbazar police station were at the spot to tackle the situation. The workers demanded resumption of operations and payment of 20 per cent bonus, threatening to intensify their agitation.

“If the administration does not take immediate action, we will boycott the next year’s assembly elections. We do not get any benefit, neither do we get fair pay. We need 20 per cent bonus and the garden has to be opened before the Durga Puja,” said Shanta Kujur, another worker at the garden.

The garden authorities could not be reached for comments.

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Pre-Order This Special Himalayan Tea and Help Support a Nepalese Tea Garden

Just in time for colder weather, a premium tea company is launching a cool program that any tea lover should be interested in. From now through the end of October, Rare Tea Company is offering customers the opportunity to pre-buy an autumn harvest for a “Special Himalayan Harvest” black tea—all the while supporting a family-run organic tea garden in Nepal.



Paul Winch-Furness


© Provided by Food & Wine
Paul Winch-Furness

Rare Tea Company, which operates through direct trade and buys from farmers at prices the farmers set—as opposed to buying from brokers, commodity markets, or middle-men—counts Claridge’s in London, Noma in Copenhagen, and Benu in San Francisco among its customers. However, Rare Tea Company has lost 70 percent of its business due to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting devastation that has rippled across the hospitality industry, founder and CEO Henrietta Lovell told Food & Wine. Much of the demand for high-end tea has fallen away, she said.

“We want to buy as much as we can from these farms because they really need it, but the problem is not supply, it’s demand,” she said over FaceTime. 

A handful of large companies supply the majority of tea sold in Europe and North America, and most of the communities supplying that tea live in poverty. Programs like this give consumers a chance to shop ethically, with their money going more directly to the farmer.

For the past decade, the company has been working with Jun Chiyabari, described by Rare Tea Company as “one of the best tea gardens in the world.” With business down, Rare Tea Company didn’t have the funds or demand to purchase an autumn harvest that Jun Chiyabari needed to sell. That’s where the Special Himalayan Harvest tea comes in. After talking with the team at the tea garden, Lovell came up with the idea to offer customers a chance to pre-buy it through Rare Tea Company. 



a little boy that is standing in the grass: Paul Winch-Furness


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Paul Winch-Furness

Gallery: Your Bar Cart Isn’t Complete Until You’ve Got A Bottle Of Mezcal (Delish)

Here’s how it works: Go to Rare Tea Company’s website and select how much tea you’d like to pre-order. The Special Himalayan Harvest is available in three quantities: 300 grams (£110, or $143.49 USD), 500 grams (£185, or $241.32), and one kilogram (£365, or $476.12). Lovell compares the pre-purchasing process to buying wine en primeur—aka buying wine before it’s been bottled, while it’s still in the barrel. She says that every time a purchase is made, Rare Tea Company will tell Jun Chiyabari, who will produce that amount. Only producing what is pre-ordered will ensure the tea garden isn’t left with excess product to sell. 



You can get an entire year’s worth of tea for less than $2 per day.


© Paul Winch-Furness
You can get an entire year’s worth of tea for less than $2 per day.

“It’s what we can do together as a community, as a tea-loving community, to support a farm and get them through,” she said.

The tea itself hasn’t been picked and crafted yet—the top image above is described

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Homes for tea garden workers

Mamata Banerjee has announced that homes will be built for over 3,500 workers of various tea gardens in the first phase of the Bengal government’s Cha Sundari project and jobs will be provided to more than 300 former militants and linkmen of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation.

The chief minister made the two announcements while holding a meeting in Siliguri on Tuesday to review different development projects in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts.

State finance minister Amit Mitra had announced Cha Sundari, a scheme to build homes for tea garden workers, in the budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal earlier this year. A sum of Rs 500 crore was allotted for the project in the budget.

Speaking at the review meeting at Uttarkanya, the north Bengal branch secretariat, Mamata said: “We will initiate the project shortly and 3,694 tea garden workers’ families will be provided with homes in the first phase. Of these houses, 2,641 will come up in Alipurduar, while 1,053 will be built in Jalpaiguri. We want to ensure that all homeless tea garden workers have their own houses. The plan is to finish the project within three years.”

In the second major announcement, Mamata announced jobs for former KLO militants and linkmen.

“In total, around 300 such people who have returned to the mainstream would be provided with jobs. They are from different districts of north Bengal. Today (Tuesday), we are providing jobs to 130 ex-KLO activists. Another 161 would be provided with jobs tomorrow (Wednesday),” the chief minister said.

Mamata also announced Rs 5 crore for the Kamtapuri Bhasa Academy constituted by the state government for conservation of Kamtapuri (a variant of the Rajbanshi language).

She set aside another Rs 5 crore for the renovation of the Buxa Fort in Alipurduar district.

“The chief minister made a meticulous move to win back the support of the tea garden population and the Rajbanshi community through her new announcements. There are 12 Assembly constituencies in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts and a party that has the support of tea garden residents and Rajbanshis can win most of these seats,” said a political observer.

In the course of the review meeting, Mamata also laid emphasis on the distribution of land rights, yet another prominent issue in the Dooars.

“All those residing in refugee colonies will be provided with land rights. Work has already started and people would be provided with secured land tenures,” she said.

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Tea garden workers in Bengal write to CM seeking legally binding wages

Workers of tea gardens in north Bengal have written to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raising a host of issues concerning them such as wages, ownership of land and financial assistance for closed tea gardens.

“We continue to get only ₹176 that has been determined in an ad hoc manner. Agricultural workers have a minimum wage of ₹257, as do workers in cinchona plantations,” the workers of closed, abandoned and sick gardens said in their letter addressed to the Chief Minister.

The letter sought the government to fix a legally binding minimum wage rate for tea plantation workers and added that though an ‘advisory committee’ for the same was set up in 2014, it has not come up with a figure. The workers raised the issue of harassment by managements when they tried to withdraw their provident fund savings, pension or gratuity and not getting payment of dues (interim relief) as ordered by the Supreme Court.

“The tea plantation workers are also not getting their dues of Financial Assistance to the Workers of Locked Out Industries (FAWLOI) Scheme. Gardens such as Birpara, Torsa and Raimatang have been closed for almost a year but have not received FAWLOI payments, which are supposed to be paid within 3 months of closure,” the letter said.

The letter, signed by representatives of Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity and union leaders of tea garden workers, added that tea plantation workers have no rights on the land they and their ancestors have been working on for over 200 years.

The issue of tea garden workers was raised on several occasions in the administrative meetings chaired by Ms. Banerjee in north Bengal during the day. The Chief Minister said that the State government has started a project called Cha Sundari for providing houses to homeless workers of tea gardens. “This is a ₹500 crore project. In phase I workers of seven tea gardens in Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar will get 3,694 homes,” Ms. Banerjee said at the meeting.

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Community kitchen to celebrate Marlborough’s elderly with tea and scones

Crossroads founding trustee Yvonne Dasler, left, and Crossroads chair Stephen Vallance will celebrate International Day of Older Persons at John’s Kitchen on Thursday.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

Crossroads founding trustee Yvonne Dasler, left, and Crossroads chair Stephen Vallance will celebrate International Day of Older Persons at John’s Kitchen on Thursday.

A community kitchen in Blenheim will be a place of tea and scones on Thursday, in a celebration of Marlborough’s older population.

Crossroads Marlborough chairman Stephen Vallance said they were inviting over 65s to mix and mingle at their community centre, John’s Kitchen, on International Day of Older Persons, as they tried to get more people to visit the space.

They knew there were more people in Marlborough who could benefit from what the kitchen had to offer.

“It’s our way of acknowledging our older people for the contribution they make to society,” Vallance said.

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“Any community centre is there to try and provide something for those people who need companionship of some sort.

“One would hope that is something we can provide. There’s no specific requirement, but to come in and see if you find it [John’s Kitchen] helpful.”

He said historically people thought of Crossroads as a place for those struggling, but it was for anyone in the community.

“It is for anybody who feels lonely or left out so if we can give them some sort of support and if they can feel some sort of comfort then that’s great,” he said.

“Come with a friend, or come alone and make a friend. We welcome everyone.”

Crossroads founding trustee Yvonne Dasler said a lot of people came to Blenheim to retire, so events like this helped them to meet others in the community.

“Because they’re not from Marlborough, they don’t know others in town,” Dasler said.

“We keep it simple, we’re not putting on a grand spread, we do simple and we do neighbourly.”

She said a lot of their volunteers also fitted into the over-65 bracket, and they wanted to celebrate them too.

“If people haven’t been here before it’s a nice time to pop in and get to know us. It’s a way to introduce ourselves and also say ‘thank you’ to our older volunteers,” she said.

“It’s very simple but people can just pop in at any time, and they’ll be greeted with a smile and a cuppa.

“It has been a tough time and a lot of people have struggled with loneliness over the winter months and lockdown, so it’s good to get out there and also for newcomers to town who might not know many others.”

International Day for Older Persons 2020 is on Thursday, October 1. Crossroads will be open 8am to 1.30pm with scones served 10am to 1pm, free of charge.

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Bista prod to Tea Board for garden reopening

On the subsidy provided to tea estates by the board, the MP said the subsidy should be based not on geographical area

BJP MP Raju Bista


Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista has sought the immediate intervention of the Tea Board of India — the apex agency that controls the sector and functions under the Union commerce ministry — to settle some of the pending issues of the industry that several party leaders had promised to resolve, but didn’t.

Bista has flagged these issues at a recent meeting of the board, of which he is a member.

“I have asked Tea Board officials to prepare a contour to restore sick and closed tea gardens and reminded the members that according to a report of the United Tea Workers’ Front in 2017, over 1,000 labourers had died from malnutrition and hunger in Bengal between 2002 and 2014 when 23 tea gardens were closed. Also, it had left more than one lakh workers unemployed. A number of tea gardens are also closed in the (Darjeeling) hills, and thousands are in acute economic crisis. This situation needs to change,” said Bista.

In recent months, this is the first time that the MP has raised these issues before the Tea Board.

BJP leaders like Nirmala Sitharaman had promised ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls that efforts would be made to reopen the closed estates.

At the meeting, Bista also demanded that the Tea Board extend all possible help and support to the small tea growers. In India, the small tea sector — comprising thousands of first generation cultivators — has fast emerged as a new avenue for employment in rural pockets of the tea-producing districts.

In fact, for the past couple of years, the small tea sector has been contributing around half of the total tea produced in India in a year.

“There are many tea gardens in the Darjeeling hills, Terai and the Dooars which have not submitted their share of provident fund with the EPFO. This has left the future of a large number of workers at risk. It is time that the Tea Board takes the right move to improve the situation,” said Bista.

On the subsidy provided to tea estates by the board, the MP said the subsidy should be based not on geographical area.

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Female leopard roaming around in tea garden for past 10 days in Assam’s Dibrugarh finally rescued – it s viral

A female leopard has been rescued from a tea garden in Dibrugarh.

According to the locals, the leopard has been roaming around in Sepon tea garden for the past 10 days.

Santanu Gogoi, Ranger of Khowang forest official said, “The leopard was roaming around in Sepon tea garden for the past 10 days. After the locals informed the forest department, we placed a cage in the tea garden.”

“On Thursday morning, the leopard was trapped in the cage. This is a female leopard. We will release it into a jungle after a clinical check-up.”

ANI took to Twitter to share images of the recued animal and the officials who carried it out. Take a look at what they shared:

Since being shared, the post has gathered over 200 likes and quite some comments from people.

“Poor animal, might have come out of the forest for food or due to deforestation. We need to focus on them too,” commented a Twitter user expressing their concerns for the animal. Another user of the micro-blogging site simply shared clap emoji to express their reactions.

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