DIBRUGARH, Oct 26 - Patience is falling down and restlessness is gradually gripping the tea garden labourers in Kana tea estate near Demow town following denial of puja bonus to them by plantation owner Vinod Agarwalla, reportedly a Kolkata based businessman.
The labourers have alleged that the owner has been controlling and managing the garden over phone from Kolkata. Agarwalla denied them the puja bonus after workers refused to accept anything below 20%. The plantation owner had initially offered 8.33% bonus, arguing that the plantation was running into losses. However, the workers had rejected the argument, stating that he has been deliberately neglecting the garden as he has never taken any initiative to improve the garden.
�Agarwalla visits the garden only once or rarely twice a year. No maintenance and improvement has been done in the garden for almost a decade. Due to the negligence, the condition of the plantation is deteriorating at all fronts. The welfare measures for the garden workers have never been taken up for several years. Under all these circumstances, the workers had demanded a meeting with the plantation owner but the latter has been avoiding,� Lakheswar Tanti, secretary, Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Moran circle said.
The plantation was formerly known as Mahmora tea estate, according to Lakheswar Tanti, secretary, Assam Chah Mazddor Sangha, Moran circle.
Vinod Agarwalla bought the garden in 2008 and renamed it as Kana tea estate, he said. Kana tea estate was earlier a division of the Dekhari tea estate. The tea estate has plantation spread in about 300 acres of land. There are about three hundred permanent workers in the plantation.
The workers have called upon the district administration to apply its administrative authority to bring the plantation owner for discussion for amicable settlement as he was refusing to meet administration as also the Assistant Labour Commissioner in this regard. Alternatively the workers have resolved to form a local management committee with the consent of the administration to run the plantation if the owner failed to respond positively.