Lockdown becomes blessing in disguise for West Bengal’s tea garden workers

Last Updated 27 May 2020, 03:47 IST

The lockdown has caused severe problems to many but for workers of a large number of tea gardens in West Bengal, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

When the lockdown was announced, the tea garden workers, mostly living in abject poverty, thought that their woes would only become worse. But things turned to be totally different.

The workers said since the lockdown was announced, the supply of ration to them has been directly monitored by the state government. Earlier, when the distribution of ration was controlled by the tea garden managers, there were several alleged irregularities and often the ration was not properly distributed.

“Since state government started to directly monitor the ration distribution, there have been no irregularities now and we get our ration in due time,” said a tea garden worker in Alipurduar district. He also said that earlier tea garden managers often claimed that the ration did not arrive, but now there is no scope of making any false claims about it.

The workers also said that government surveillance on ration distribution has become so strict that now government officials frequently ask them whether they are receiving ration in due time.

With the strict surveillance by the state government, the workers can at least be assured that they will have four square meals a day.

“Suddenly the lockdown has changed everything. Earlier, we had to agitate for our ration but now the situation has changed,” said Archana Orao, a tea garden worker.

According to Nirmal Orao, a tea garden worker in Kalchini block in Alipurduar district and a local panchayat member, the state government’s direct supervision and control over the PDS has benefited tea garden workers to a great extent.

He also said that the state government should permanently take direct control of the PDS in the tea gardens for the interest of the workers.

The improvement has also drawn the attention of the state government. Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick said that they will look into the demand.

(Published 26 May 2020, 13:19 IST)

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