From our Staff Correspondent
Dibrugarh, Dec 13: A Provident Fund (PF) team led by Additiol PF Commissioner, Guwahati, Ambarish Srivasta and Assistant PF Commissioner as well as Recovery Officer, Dhanjay Das, Dibrugarh have attached three gardens, mely, ndanban Tea Estate, Basapathar Tea Estate and Kailashpur Tea Estate, that come under Tengakhat Mouza, on Wednesday, on charges of non-payment of PF to the employees to the tune of Rs 2.68 crore. The dues were pending since 2004.
The three gardens, despite repeated instructions from the PF department, were not paying the amount. As a result, the movable and immovable properties of the gardens were confiscated. The gardens, henceforth, cannot be sold, transferred or leased out to any party.
Also, if the gardens do not correct their ways, the authorities might even consider acquiring or auctioning them.
PF Officers Aparajita Dey and Prafulla Chandra Kakoti; Assistant PF Officer, Dhiren Kurmi; Labour Inspector, Apar Kind; Tengakhat OC, Bidyut Dutta, and representative of Tea Karmachari Sangha and Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) were present.
When contacted over phone, ACMS president Pawan Singh Ghatowar welcomed the step taken by the officials concerned. Holding the gardens guilty, he said the gardens were not just violating the norms by not submitting the amount deducted from the salary of the labourers, but also were not contributing their share to the PF fund of the workers.
Adding that such actions could not be tolerated as per the Provident Fund Act, he said that similar violations done by other tea gardens should be dealt in the same manner.
Reacting sharply to the incident of Bogitola Tea Estate, where the proprietors, Sudhir Roy and Samir Roy, opened fire at the tea labourers who had assembled in front of the residence of the owners to demand their share of PF, he said that the tea garden owners wanted to exercise dictatorship in the garden. Terming the incident unfortute, he demanded for a high-level inquiry into the matter. He also added that the State Government should pay adequate compensation to the injured labourers. The ACMS president even demanded free medical treatment for the injured labourers.
Ghatowar also informed that the labourers in the past had complained to the PF department, labour department and police regarding non-payment of the PF amount, but to no avail. Had their grievances been addressed, this tragic situation would not have taken place, Ghatowar asserted. He further added that the State Government should take adequate steps against all the tea gardens who fail to implement the provisions of Plantation Labour Act.