Gorkhatimes

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Samsing garden to reopen today

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 17, 2009

Darjeeling, Aug 16: After remaining closed for nine years, the Samsing tea garden in Jalpaiguri district will reopen tomorrow.

The garden with 940 hectares of land has been taken over by the Ambootia Tea Group of Darjeeling.

“The agreement has been reached and we will start plucking from tomorrow. We will be paying provident funds and gratuity to the workers. We also had a meeting with the leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, whose labour unit is dominant in the garden,” said Anil Bansal, senior vice-president, Ambootia Tea Group.

The Ambootia group has 10 gardens in the hills which include prominent brands like Ambootia and Happy Valley in Darjeeling. This is the first time that the company is venturing into the Dooars.

The garden, 135km from Darjeeling town, has been taken over by the new management with all the previous liabilities even though the details have not yet been made public.

“We have to calculate them, once the garden starts functioning,” said Bansal.

Amar Lama, a central committee leader of the Morcha, said the garden will initially function with 1,300 workers. “It will be increased to 1,550 within three years,” he said.

Ever since the Morcha was formed in 2007, the workers of the garden had got themselves registered with the party’s labour union. The Morcha had been demanding the re-opening of the garden for almost a year and had also raised the issue during a meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee last year.

Since last month, the Morcha had started an indefinite relay hunger strike in the Dooars, demanding the reopening of the Samsing, Ramjhora and Kathalguri gardens.

Since the garden has opened, it is obvious that we have to lift the hunger strike. Even Ramjhora is likely to reopen soon. But a final decision the relay hunger strike is yet to be taken,” said Lama.

The Morcha’s central committee is meeting here at 10am tomorrow and the Dooars hunger strike is one of the issues that is expected to come up for discussion, party sources said.

Source:The Telegraph

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