Two tea garden to reopen in Dooars

Hantapara Tea Estate, one of the gardens of Duncan Goenka Group
Alipurduar: Two Dooars tea estates closed for almost two years will reopen on February 5, the decision coming after an intervention by the state ahead of rural polls this year.
The Huntapara and Garganda in Alipurduar district are owned by the Calcutta-based Duncan Goenka Group. Sources said the group had handed over the reins of the two gardens, shut since April 2015, to another tea company that has estates in the Dooars.
"Duncans has not transferred ownership but has only assigned operational powers to the new company. It is good that finally, the gardens will reopen, just ahead of the new season," said a source.
In Alipurduar district, the Duncan Goenka Group has eight tea estates, all shut since2015.

Sources said the decision was taken at a tripartite meeting held on Monday at the state labour department office in Calcutta. "At the meeting, representatives of the other tea company were present along with those from Duncans. It was decided that the new company will run the garden," a union leader said.
The decision brings to the fore Trinamul's desperation to ensure all estates of Duncans reopen ahead of the rural elections in which garden workers account for a large chunk of voters. Huntapara has 1,780 permanent workers and Garganda 1,360.
Also, Trinamul leaders have been insisting that the Centre has done nothing to reopen closed gardens.
"Trinamul leaders, including chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have criticised the Centre time and again for its failure to reopen the gardens of the Duncan Goenka Group. It has helped the party (Trinamul) build its base in the tea belt of Dooars," said an observer.
The observer pointed that if the state failed to persuade the tea major from reopening the remaining gardens, the BJP is certain make it an issue in the rural polls.
"We are happy that the (two) gardens will reopen. The Centre had declared that it would reopen the gardens but failed. The state ministers, our party leaders and officials at the state labour department are trying to facilitate reopening of the remaining four gardens of Duncans at the earliest," said Mohon Sharma, president of the Cha Bagan Trinamul Congress Mazdoor Union.

The Telegraph

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