Send Liton, Sylhet Bureau Chief
There are 5 tea gardens in Madhabpur of Habiganj, Surma, Noapara, Jagadishpur, Teliapara, Baikunthapur tea gardens.
These are located in Madhabpur upazila. Subhas Pantati, 65, used to work in this Teliapara garden. Now retired after 35 years of work. The small ethnic group lives in the countryside.
I have seen many things in my long life. But now the changes are falling in his eyes. The village is now paved.
One hundred families in this village get 30 kg of rice four times a year. One hundred unemployed people get old age allowance of six thousand rupees a year.
He is grateful to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for all this. He said that it is because of him that today the educated children of our family are getting jobs according to their qualifications.
Being a doctor, an engineer. He is getting a job in the police and army. Increased our social status. All this has happened for the welfare of Sheikh Hasina. Not only this Teliapara Chabagan, every garden has the same scene. The small ethnic groups here are the lifeblood of these tea gardens. Due to their labor and sweat, Madhabpur tea is being exported beyond the borders of the country. These are contributing to the country’s economy.
But how many years has the government paid attention to the good and bad of these tea workers? How much has their quality of life improved? Talking to a small ethnic group working in the tea industry, tea workers and day laborers.
Their family life, sorrow, suffering and joy come out of their mouths. About 20-25 small ethnic groups, including the Bhowmik community, work in the tea gardens. Most of their ancestors lived in India.
They settled in this region one hundred / one hundred and fifty years ago.
The tea workers of this small ethnic group, who have been struggling day after year for years, are now feeling a little relieved.
They are very happy with the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In Baikunthapur Palli, more than five hundred families have been suffering so far with roads and ghats.
As a backward people, they were deprived of government facilities from generation to generation. Now the roads are paved. They are getting all the benefits of social security including widow allowance, old age allowance. Rice is getting through rationing.
The cost of labor has increased from 40-50 rupees to 120 rupees. And they have got all these opportunities from the time of the government led by Sheikh Hasina. Therefore, there is no end to the gratitude towards Sheikh Hasina to the small ethnic group tea industry workers.
However, they did not say that this receipt was sufficient. Subhash Pantati said, “For the backward people like us, these are less than what is needed, but where the previous governments did not notice, this little opportunity is a lot for us!” So little is satisfied. Although they were relieved by the goodwill of the Prime Minister, their grief did not subside. Speaking of relief, there is also some difficulty in talking.
Subhash Pantati said they have to work 8 hours a day in the tea garden. In return their labor is worth only 120 rupees. That is, 3600 rupees per month. Which is incredibly incredible compared to the current labor market! “We feel the value of our labor is the lowest in the world,” he said.
However, retired Subhash Pantati received a one-time payment of Tk 1.95 lakh from the tea garden authorities.
He said those who work permanently only get this one-time money. At the same time, the retired workers also get a pension of Rs. 150 per week. Not only this Teliapara tea garden, every garden has the same scene. The small ethnic groups here are the lifeblood of these tea gardens.
Motilal Saotal is one of the small ethnic groups in the garden. Talking about the sorrows and hardships of his life, he said that he has a family with two sons, a son’s wife and five grandchildren. The eldest son Vijay Kumar is a day laborer.
The younger son Maran Saotal works in the tea garden. He is living an inhuman life in the old house as there are more members in the family. There is no opportunity to build a new house as the tea garden authorities have a ban. The family of 10 lives in the 21 by 9 feet house of the garden authority.
He said that all the rules that were in force during the British rule when tea gardens were established in the region are still being followed. Although the British came to Bangladesh after Pakistan and Pakistan, they are still under the British rule. They have nothing to do here without the permission of the tea garden authorities. Here you have to live according to their rules, even if you die you have to follow the rules of the garden authority. Sumon, the son of this tea gardener, is now studying in Honors class at Madhabpur Maulana Asad Ali Degree College. The demand for a fair wage was voiced in his voice.
“How can a family survive on 120 rupees a day?” That’s not what garden owners think. How will our parents feed us with this money? Clothes? Teach reading? Those who are born with the talent to study, they do not get that opportunity. As a result, we have to fall behind from the society. His demand is to fix a daily wage of 300 rupees for tea workers.
If it is, they will be able to live with some respect. Surma tea garden worker Saran Kairi said, “I started working in the tea garden at Tk 1.20 per day.” When I quit my job, I got 120 rupees a day. At the time of my daughter’s marriage, I took Rs 65,000 from the welfare fund and retired voluntarily. My wife of 61 years died a few days ago. One of the four daughters and two sons now works as a tea worker in permanent employment.
The two boys work temporarily. Their family lives in hardship due to their income. He collected firewood in the mountains himself.
Saran Kairi said that about 500 people from small ethnic groups, including men and women, work in Surma Tea Garden on a permanent and temporary basis. It is now difficult for them to get jobs as laborers in tea gardens. Labor even if qualified