TT, Siliguri, April 21: The Tea Board has said any company taking over the Duncans’ tea gardens that are now with the Centre would have to deposit Rs 1.5 crore as “performance security” which would be partially or fully forfeited if the owner is unable to run the estate.
After the Tea Board published the bid document of the six gardens acquired by the Centre on its website on March 18 and sought proposals from interested investors, it released two corrigenda, the second one on April 15.
At the second corrigendum, it mentioned that the company selected through the bidding process as the investor in any of these tea gardens will have to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 1.5 crore.
“… the authorised person shall furnish performance security of Rs 1.5 crore in the form of a bank guarantee for satisfactorily functioning/managing of each of the tea estates. The authorised company shall give the said bank guarantee within 15 days of the receipt of the order from the board regarding its decision to handover the management control to the company,” read a corrigendum.
The six gardens acquired by the Centre are Tulsipara, Hantapara, Birpara, Dhumchipara, Garrganda and Lankapara. All are in Alipurduar district.
Tea board sources said the bank guarantee would be forfeited if there was any negligence by the private company in running that garden.
“If the management is not running the garden in a proper manner or has closed or abandoned a garden without following necessary rules and (giving) appropriate reasons, the entire bank guarantee or a part of it, would be forfeited by the tea board and would be used to compensate the workers,” a tea board source said. “The tea board can also terminate the management control of the concerned company over the garden.”
The company would have to give “…sufficient notice of at least two months to the tea board” before it quits the garden. “The bank guarantee provided by the management shall stand forfeited in the event the garden is abandoned without giving prior notice of at least two months,” the corrigendum said.
“We believe incorporation of such new clauses would discourage those who intend to take over the acquired gardens of Duncans from the Centre from taking such steps which affects the workforce,” a trade union leader said.