Udayani Social Action Forum, the Jesuit social centre of Calcutta Province, an active member of the Right to Food network, both at State and national level is on the Monitoring and Vigilance Committee for Public Distribution System as per the National Food Security Act, in West Bengal state, eastern India. The 12-member team, including two from Udayani, decided to take up the fact-finding visit after deaths were reported in at least two closed tea gardens in the northern part of the state. The team found three workers close to death due to lack of food.
The Hindu newspaper reports that:
The team members also pointed out that there was migration and trafficking of women.
“We came across gross violations of the Supreme Court orders on facilities to be given in closed tea gardens. While AAY rations are available, FAWLOI (family allowance for workers in locked-out industry) forms are just being distributed. MNREGS work is largely unavailable,” Fr. Irudaya Jothi S.J, another member, said.
The visit of the representatives of ‘Right to Food and Work Campaign West Bengal’ comes after Jeet Bahan Munda, a 45- year-old worker of Raipur Tea Estate died on June 31 while 40 -year-old Shekhar Nagarchi died at Red Bank Tea Garden on July 2.
The deaths have triggered a fresh debate over the plight of workers of closed tea gardens. Though the State government has denied that they were starvation deaths it has set up a committee of three ministers to look into the matter.