ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Misery in the Tea Gardens

Tea plantation workers face starvation, trafficking and political neglect.

The only information most Indians outside the tea-growing areas have of workers in the plantations is what they have gleaned from popular cinema – of smiling workers on rolling green hills waving to the lead pair as they sing and dance. Nothing could be more removed from reality. Tea garden workers, especially of West Bengal and Assam, are now experiencing widespread malnutrition, human trafficking and even death due to extreme working conditions and poor wages. Those in Kerala and Tamil Nadu work in comparatively better conditions because the Plantations Labour Act (PLA) 1951 which lays down norms is better implemented in the South.

A non-governmental organisation says that a survey of closed tea gardens in Assam and West Bengal points to a hundred deaths since the beginning of 2014 due to acute malnutrition and starvation, a figure similar to that mentioned by an adviser to the Supreme Court-appointed Commissioner on the Right to Food.

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