Morcha union DTDPLU threatens aggressive agitation to reopen Panighatta Tea Estate

Panighatta Tea Estate
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union (DTDPLU) has threatened to launch an aggressive movement if the owner of the closed Panighatta Tea Estate fails to attend a meeting scheduled on May 25.
Today’s tripartite meeting between the trade union, the owner and the state government on the fate of the tea estate could not take place as the owner was absent. He has informed of his inability to be present through a letter, informed Joint Labour Commissioner Sunil Kumar. Kumar said the owner, Shankar Sharaf, has requested for some more time in the letter that was sent to the Darjeeling district magistrate.
Only two trade unions were present for today’s meeting, the DTDPLU, and the Himalayan Plantation Workers’ Union (HPWU) of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. The trade unions and the joint labour commissioner decided to give the owner time till May 20 and call another meeting on May 25.
Harihar Acharya, the Terai chief of the DTDPLU, said if the owner fails to attend that meeting too and the tea estate is not reopened by May 25, they will start a massive agitation in support of the hapless workers of Panighatta, which is in its seventh month of closure now.
"Despite several rounds of meetings for reopening the tea estate, the owner has not shown any interest to that effect. Now that we have given the May 25 deadline, he will stand responsible for the outcome of the agitation we have threatened to launch,” warned Acharya.
Panighatta Tea Estate is spread across an area of about 1,200 acres and lies adjacent to forest area. Since October 10, 2015 when the garden was shut down indefinitely, the place has witnessed 13 deaths, mostly due to poverty, hunger and malnutrition. Many school and college going students have given up studies as they are not able to afford the fees.(EOI)

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