TT, Jalpaiguri, Aug. 16: Around 300 labourers of the closed Dharanipur tea garden have not been enlisted for the Financial Assistance to Workers of Locked Out Industries scheme in the current fiscal as they did not submit the annual renewal forms for the scheme before the August 14 deadline.
Under the scheme, each worker of a shut garden gets Rs 1,500 a month. The state provides 40 per cent of the amount and the rest is paid by the Centre.
The renewal forms are usually submitted in April, at the end of a fiscal. This time, the deadline had been extended as the Assembly polls were being conducted. Sources said unless the deadline is extended further, the 308 workers would not be eligible for the monthly assistance till April 2017.
“We have sent the file (with the complete forms) to the labour department in Calcutta for payment of assistance under FAWLOI. We conducted a survey and found that 308 of the 800 workers of Dharanipur tea estate had not filled up their forms to renew the assistance they get. The matter will be placed before the district task force on closed gardens tomorrow,” said assistant labour commissioner Hiralal Pan.
The garden in Dhupguri block is about 45km from here.
Pan said the meeting would be held in the district magistrate’s office here tomorrow.
The task force that includes the district magistrate, the deputy labour commissioner and trade union representatives was formed by the Mamata Banerjee government in February this year.
Dharanipur was locked out, along with Red Bank and Surendranagar gardens, also in Jalpaiguri, in 2013. Since then, the labourers of the three estates have been getting financial assistance under the scheme. All the three gardens of the Red Bank Group were taken over by the state government in September, 2014.
While both Red Bank and Surendranagar estates have completed the formalities, the 308 workers of Dharanipur have not got FAWLOI since June.
Sources in the district labour department alleged that lack of initiative by the Trinamul’s Terai Dooars Plantation Workers’ Union to get the forms filled up by the workers was the reason for the failure to miss the August 14 deadline.
“The filling up of forms had been delayed due to the Assembly elections. But we had extended the last date to August 14. On July 9, we had called the Dharanipur union leaders for a meeting in our Malbazar office but no one came. After that, we gave them several reminders but to no avail. We had no other option but to complete the files and send those to the state labour department,” a source said.
The Trinamul union blamed the workers. “The forms for renewal were in our garden office and we had asked the workers to fill those up and sign them. It is not possible to go to each worker’s residence and get the forms filled up. That is all I can say,” Jagadish Roy, the secretary of the Trinamul union at Dharanipur, said.
Jalpaiguri district magistrate Mukta Arya said she was not aware of the details. “I took charge just a month ago.”