TT, Siliguri, April 22: Around 500 families of a Terai tea garden who had been living without electricity for the past 13 years got power supply in February following the State Legal Services Authority’s instruction to the West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited .
Amir Sarkar, the general secretary of the Darjeeling District Legal Aid Forum (DDLAF), a voluntary organisation, said the residents of Girja Line in Gayaganga Tea Estate, 20km from here, had been facing hardships for a long time.
“The information came to us from Dhumkuriya Legal Aid Clinic, Dagapur, which is a unit of the DDLAF, in 2011. We took up the matter with the Sub-Divisional Legal Services Committee here in Siliguri,” Sarkar said.
It was followed by a visit of a team from the committee and some representatives of the DDLAF.
“It was found that even though the WBSEDCL had installed meters in the houses, there was no electric supply,” the DDLAF secretary said.
After the visit, the residents submitted a mass petition demanding power supply to the DDLAF, which took it up with the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) and the West Bengal Human Rights Commission in Calcutta.
Representatives of the DDLAF and local people appeared before the commission and the SLSA where the case was heard.
“We also pursued the case in a circuit bench of the state human rights commission in Siliguri. Around 100 residents of Girja Line were present at the hearing,” Sarkar said.
Both the bodies ordered the chairman of the WBSEDCL to extend electricity supply to the affected families.
“Although the direction was given back in 2011, the WBSEDCL took time in executing it. We had to take up the matter again. Finally, the residents of Girja Line got electricity in February this year,” Sarkar said.
On April 10, the residents organised a programme.
“They celebrated the occasion. They had invited members of the subdivisional judiciary and also the DDLAF. All those present were felicitated by the residents of the garden,” Sarkar said.
Ajay Kumar Das, the additional district and sessions judge (first court) of Siliguri and chairperson of the subdivisional legal services committee and Sridhan Su, civil judge (senior division), Siliguri, attended the programme with others.
The judges spoke on the free legal assistance process and justice accessibility programme and apprised the tea garden workers and their families as to how to get justice through the alternative dispute redressal mechanism, Sarkar said.