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Assam tea plantation workers protest against clearing of estate for airport- Mrit News

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Fearing loss of livelihood, they urgently seek Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s attention

Fearing loss of livelihood, they urgently seek Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s attention

GUWAHATI

Workers of a tea plantation in Cachar district of southern Assam, fearing loss of livelihood after the clearing of a part of the estate for a commercial airport, have sought Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s attention.

Around 2,000 workers of the Doloo Tea Estate have been protesting since May 12, when the district authorities engaged excavators to uproot tea bushes for a new international Greenfield airport project. The place is near Kumbhirgram, the existing airport for Barak Valley operated by the Indian Air Force.

“The district administration is not allowing the members of workers’ unions and the affected plantation workers to demonstrate. A few of us have also been detained, but we are not giving up our protest,” Mrinal Kanti Shome, general secretary of the Assam Majoori Shramik Union told The Hindu on Tuesday.

Workers of the plantation said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which enjoys the votes of the “tea tribes”, should not have “bulldozed” their only source of income.

Agreement signed: officials

The district officials denied any eviction plan, pointing out that the estate was on government land and an agreement had been signed between the Doloo Tea Company India Ltd and three unions representing the workers for the airport project. Compensation to clear the workers’ dues was factored into the agreement, they said.

But the workers said they had rejected this agreement in two public hearings at the Moinagarh and Lalbagh divisions of the 9,965-bigha estate. They airport project will take up about 2,500 bighas across 21 sections of the tea estate.

Mr. Shome said the government could have spared Doloo, a fairly profit-making estate, and used the land of an estate under lockout.

Ramandeep Kaur, Superintendent of Police, Cachar, said the situation in Doloo was normal and work to clear the area for the airport project was progressing smoothly.

There are speculations in the Cachar district that the Chief Minister would be meeting the agitating plantation workers by the end of the month.


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