TINSUKIA: COVID-19 pandemic is spreading at an alarming proportion in tea gardens, particularly among workers across Tinsukia district. This spurt has been noticed during the past two months.
Initially it was the ex-tea garden persons of Philobari belt who returned from Chennai as migrant labourers, carrying the virus to Tinsukia district, and in later stages, several gardens got affected due to thousands of migrant labours, many of whom evaded mandatory quarantine protocol.
The bulletins released by the health department revealed that positive cases had been reported from tea estates like Margherita, Pangeeri, Longsowal, Itakhuli, Samdang, Nokhary, Dangori, Kobang, Hokanguri, Bogapani, Dirial, Hapjan, Tipuk and many more. The concerning fact is that, according to data, women outnumbered men among the infected persons, which indicated that women engaged in plucking of leaves and other jobs in groups did not follow COVID-19 guidelines. While the officials and the employees maintain full protocol, they have allegedly taken an indifferent attitude towards the workforce.
During initial days of the pandemic, quite a few garden management carried out awareness programme, some even provided masks. But these were mostly symbolic and publicity stunts without any long-term supportive measures. As a result of this, the garden community failed to realize the grave situation. Presently, tea garden communities have become a potential threat to commoners as they frequent nearby towns, banks, markets and even to workplaces without adhering to COVID guidelines.
In a glaring example, more than 40 girls from nearby tea gardens of Tinsukia work in Choice Bakery located at Parbotia, Tinsukia and move in batches in bicycles every morning. Initially these girls wore masks but off late they have totally discarded masks.