The Centre has told Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that many tea garden workers in West Bengal were not getting wages due to lapses on the part of the state administration and not because of demonetisation.
"Irregularities have been reported regarding payment of wages to the tea garden workers of the state of West Bengal," a letter written by the Central government-owned Tea Board of India to the West Bengal Chief Secretary said.
In the letter, accessed by CNN-News18 on Monday, Tea Board Chairman Santosh Sarangi said reports from the field offices showed that while no wages were paid to tea garden workers in Jalpaiguri, workers in seven gardens in Darjeeling and ten in Alipurduar districts received wages
District magistrates were to disburse money paid in by tea garden owners to the workers, the Board said, pointing out that the arrangement is working smoothly in Assam and Kerala.
Reacting to this WB Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee said, “ These are private tea estates where wage distribution can only be done by banks in tandem with tea estate owners. We ourselves have written several letters to the Centre about this. The fault isn’t at our end “
The Tea Board also requested the state government to take steps to facilitate smooth payment of wages to 3.27 lakh workers in the tea-growing districts of West Bengal.
Since demonetisation came into effect from November 9, the tea estates of West Bengal have been facing problems in paying fortnightly wages to workers, because of restrictions in withdrawing cash above Rs 10,000 a day. Tea workers have hit the streets and protested outside offices over the past few days.