Supreet Raj, one of the members of the group said, ''We are here for the long run. Things might have just started, but we are on the right track. But, for the future, we need to provide employment to these tea garden workers.'' After the Red Bank tea garden came to a complete close, the workers are left with no scope to earn.
But, it is too early for the group to make any ambitious calls, as they have just kick started their initiative. In this short frame, they have gained a certain momentum in their project as they have already started to receive small funds from various local people in the hills. The funds as of now, have been outlined to provide relief to the tea garden workers in the form of ration.
Supreet added, ''The tea garden workers have limited skills. Besides, plucking leaves, they have no expertise. But, what we can do is provide them skill building training for carpentry, tailoring etc, which will help them earn for their living.'' This can give these workers the much needed employment to go outside their comfort zone and work in the neighbouring areas as well.
DAWN is not the only group, which is working towards providing relief to the starving workers. Team Who Cares is another similar group, which is doing an excellent job providing pulses, rice and other basic amenities to the people in the estate. On 18th of April, there were few such groups, who were doing voluntary service in the tea estate.
Pallawib Rai did all the ground work for DAWN, highlighting some important issues. He talked about his experience in the estate.
''Once we reached Red Bank tea garden, it was a different world all together. Poverty has painted a very sad and painful picture. We were aware about the conditions, but we were left startled, when we saw people in the garden with their torn clothes and residents mostly malnourished. It is no wonder that a tea garden, which has been shut for long will have to struggle for living, but we had not expected that people were surviving in such condition just few miles away from where we reside spending our life in utter comfort.''
''A meal for a day could dry their wet eyes. Faces were shrunk, eyes reflected hunger, bodies so deliberately show illness. There are people who have been ill for more than five months and the basic medical facility of their rural dispensary is too less for their disease. A good hospital in a big city is unaffordable for them, as they have no cash to take care of their ailing body, they rather count their days.''
''Water is a huge problem. There are big hand pumps installed by gram panchayat, which according to a local approximately gives 10 litres of water for 150 pumps. A secretary of local labour union Mr. Oraon believes 'hand pumps are real cause of TB.' It is strange to know that hand pump causes TB, but we can imagine how difficult it is to manually pump a hand pump hundred times for few litres of water on an empty stomach. The unfiltered water that literally tasted iron must be adding to diseases there. Most of the houses are in a pathetic state.''
The above description of Pallawib reflects the sorry state of the tea garden workers. One can draw comparison with the starving death related cases in Africa and other underdeveloped countries of the world. And with such pathetic untold condition, India claims to be one of the most developing countries. For the nation to develop, such issues need to be highlighted, else the disparity between the rich and the poor will only increase manifold, thus threatening such tea industries, which has been a subject of neglect for many years now. Will the government ever wake up?
starvation is what I found completely appalling and unacceptable.
Indian tea industry boasts of of having over 20 percent global
production and 12 percent international market share worth of
billions of dollars. Even in the domestic market, tea is one of the
most consumed products. And then, on the other side we have closed
estates, abandoned gardens, unpaid workers, dying of hunger, in
today's age, which is not justified, '' said Dhayan, one of the
members of the group.