Darjeeling Tea Industry is hands down one of the most exploitative industries in India Despite several prayers petitions to the government for implementation of Minimum Wages Act, Parja Patta rights to workers, nothing has been done writes Sugam Chhetri.
Tea because of its ubiquitous nature, always marks its place on the table, no matter what the occasion or function. Tea is also one of the most important sources of revenue generation for West Bengal from the region.
Many a bureaucrat, intellectuals, corporates may have discussed several issues with a sip of it, but never speculated on the plight of tea labours.
Tea workers of the region are working below minimum wage, and over the years systematically all of their facilities have been stripped off. In order to support and sustain their family, they are forced to do small scale animal husbandry and horticulture. This is in addition to 12-14 hours of back-breaking labour every day.
The way the government perceive the tea labours seem to be, preferring to feed them by giving bits and pieces of fish, instead of allowing them to fish for themselves. This in itself just creates favourable conditions for the Estate owners but continues to keep the workers and their families perpetually poor and economically marginalised.
The Feudalistic and Capitalist governments are pushing Bengal Tea Estate back to 1859.
Today the condition of tea labours are more pathetic than what it was back in the day. The only means the workers have to have their voices heard is Prayers and Petitions, which the indifferent administrator don’t even bother to address.
Your Tea bushes are of more concern to them than to you
Should we continue to allow our families in tea gardens to be exploited this way??