Agri Business

Darjeeling tea planters relieved at prospect of peace in the hills

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on June 08, 2011

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‘Political settlement is the basic prerequisite for peace, development and growth in the Darjeeling hills. The earlier the settlement is reached, the better.'





The Darjeeling tea planters are relieved at the prospect of an early return to normalcy in the Darjeeling hills. Tuesday's announcement by the Chief Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee, suggests that the long-drawn conflicts in the Darjeeling hills will be resolved soon as a political settlement is on the anvil.

“Political settlement is the basic prerequisite for peace, development and growth in the Darjeeling hills,” a planter told Business Line, adding, “the earlier the settlement is reached the better.”

Since both Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the State government agreed to ensure peace in the hills, he hoped that the development work, long neglected, would now receive a boost. The work on setting up of an agri-export zone and other projects would be expedited. There are 87 big tea gardens in the Darjeeling hills producing nearly nine million kg of tea annually.

The tea planters, among others, would like to see the proposed body with full administrative, financial and executive powers is formed without delay to start work early in the interests of the hills people.

Apprehension

They are, however, apprehensive of the talk of probable change in land lease status. They seem to favour status quo on the matter. “The change in the present status might create uncertainty,” one planter said.

Small estate owners, however, have a different view. “The present embargo on land acquisition must go so that we can expand our area of operation,” said a spokesman for small tea growers.

“The State government and the Tea Board, which is a central government body, should take steps to promote production of tea by small growers,” he said. There are about 1,000 small tea growers in Darjeeling hills producing a total of five to six lakh kg of green leaf tea, mostly of organic variety.

PTI adds from Jalpaiguri: Hundreds of Gorkha Janmukti supporters today greeted party general secretary Mr Roshan Giri and two other leaders when they arrived here from Kolkata, hailing yesterday's agreement ending the 15-year-old Darjeeling problem.

Raising slogans in support of the ‘positive' agreement, the supporters draped ‘khada' (uttariya) around Mr Giri and the two other leaders Mr Harkabahadur Chettri and Mr Sankar Adhikari when they got down from train at the New Jalpaiguri railway station in the morning.

Mr Chettri, the GJM spokesman, expressed satisfaction at the agreement and said the hills would now witness all-round development, particularly in health, education and water supply.

Mr Chettri said the Gorkhaland demand would be discussed in the tripartite meeting to be called soon. He said the decision to set up two committees — one to look into the territorial composition of the new hill council and the other on tea garden areas — was a welcome development.

Published on June 08, 2011
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