A group comprising members from political parties, civil rights groups, NGOs and trade unions Saturday held a meeting with state food minister Jyotipriya Mallick to build pressure on the government to over deaths of workers in two closed tea gardens of north Bengal.
A Left Front delegation visited two tea gardens in Jalpaiguri Friday while another delegation of Congress MLAs and leaders visited Raipur Tea Estate and Red Bank Tea gardens a couple of days ago.
Jeet Bahan Munda, a 45- year-old worker of Raipur Tea Estate, died June 31 while 40 -year-old Shekhar Nagarchi died at the Red Bank Tea gardens on July 2, triggering fresh debate over the plight of workers of closed tea gardens.
In the last week of June, at least six deaths were reported from Raipur Tea Estate. Even though locals claimed the deaths were caused due to starvation and the doctors in three cases mentioned “malnutrition” as the cause of death, the state government has denied the claims.
Representatives of 31 NGOs and trade unions under the banner ‘Right to Food and Work Campaign West Bengal’ will also be sending a fact-finding team to the six closed tea gardens in the state in the second week of July.
“We will conduct a detailed survey on whether the Supreme Court orders on providing food and relief and repayment of dues to the workers of closed tea garden are being followed,” aid Anuradha Talwar, one of the activists associated with the forum of 31 NGOs and trade unions said.
The group is also emphasising the need for wage revision for the tea workers.