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Anti-Adani Kerala sea port protest: 3,000 booked over alleged police station attack at Vizhinjam, all-party meeting today

While the police has stated that the protesters had provoked the violence, the representative of the protesters’ has stated that the “violence was scripted by the ruling party with help of the BJP”

28 Nov 2022

fisherman
Fishermen belonging to the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese burn their boats during a protest against the Vizhinjam port project, at Mulloor, Thiruvananthapuram, October 27, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo 

A large crowd of agitators is reported to have “attacked” the Vizhinjam police station in Thiruvananthapuram in protest against the construction of Adani port, allegedly injuring at least 29 policemen and damaging police vehicles reported PTI. Some unconfirmed media reports suggest that some priests of the Catholic church are supporting the protesters.

While more details are not yet known, PTI has stated that “the mob targeted the police station using sticks and bricks, and attacked police officers after a person was arrested and a few others were taken into custody in connection with the protests on November 26.” On Constitution Day, November 26, fisherfolk belonging to the minority community protested the loss of livelihood that would follow the construction of this project, something that has been opposed given that Trivandum already has a successful and viable sea port already." At least 29 policemen have been injured and admitted to various hospitals," a special branch police official told PTI. Another media report states that “as many as 36 policemen and around 20 agitators were injured in the violence, which rocked the Vizhinjam region on Sunday night.”

fisherman
Archbishop among 15 priests booked for Adani port stir

Considering the sensitive situation prevailing in the area, the Kerala government has deployed more police officials from other districts. The agitators also reportedly attacked media-persons who were present at the site. ACV local channel camera-person Sherif M John was attacked by the protesters, who damaged his camera and snatched his cellphone. John has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.Meanwhile, the district administration has initiated peace talks with the church authorities and its representative, Fr Eugene Perera, said the church wants to maintain peace. "We will speak to the protesters. I came here to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner," he told the media.

Senior officials, including the district collector, city police commissioner and sub-collector, have called a reconciliatory meeting with the protesters at Kovalam animation centre. The church authorities and government officials are expected to talk to the media after the meeting. The police have also arranged tight security in the Vizhinjam region.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police on Monday. November 28,  registered two separate FIRs, In the second, a case against 3,000 persons in connection with the fishermen’s attack Sunday night on a police station at Vizhinjam, where they have been protesting against Adani Group’s Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited. The FIR said the protesters wanted the police to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday's violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh, it said.

This FIR states that 3,000 people laid siege to the police station, held the officials hostage for several hours, vandalised the furniture and damaged several vehicles parked on the premises of the station. It said the protesters wanted to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday’s violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh from the attack, the FIR said.

The first FIR for Saturday’s “violence” filed by the police booked Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Thomas Netto, auxiliary bishop R Kristudas and several priests of the archdiocese. The complaint states that the violence took place during the fishermen’s protest against Adani’s bid to resume work. Among those named in the FIR, names include at least 15 Catholic priests, including metropolitan archbishop Thomas J Netto and Perera, over the violence at Vizhinjam on Saturday. The archbishop was made the first accused in the FIR. However, in the second FIR, the police did not name anyone in the FIR registered in connection with Sunday’s attack on the police station.

Interestingly, the Vizhinjam Action Council Convener Fr Eugene Pereira alleged the violence was scripted by the ruling CPI(M) with the backing of external elements, including the BJP. “We are challenging the government to order a judicial probe into the incidents in the last two days. Police had provoked the fishermen. On Sunday, the police took into custody person who was not involved in Saturday’s attack. Later, when four others went to the station to enquire about the custody of a fisherman, they were also detained at the station, leading to the tension,’’ he said.

Kerala State Port Development Minister Ahamed Devarkovil said an all-party meeting would be held on Monday. “The district collector was asked to convene an all-party meeting to ensure peace in the region. He would also hold discussions with the agitators. The issue is coming up before the high court on Monday. The government would also consider the outcome from the high court before deciding further action. The agitators had given an assurance at the high court that they would not obstruct the construction. Now, that assurance to the court has been breached,’’ he said.

The ADGP M R Ajit Kumar told the Indian Express that the situation was under control and no untoward incident was reported on Monday. Of the five fishermen taken into custody, four of them were released on bail from the station, while another person was remanded in judicial custody, he said.

It may be recalled, that fishermen who have a successful livelihood that is being directly threatened, have been protesting against the Rs 7,500-crore project for more than the last four months, alleging that its construction caused massive sea erosion, leading to loss of livelihood and dwellings. The state government has recently formed an expert committee, but the fishermen’s demand for including their representative in the panel was rejected. They wanted the construction to be suspended until the study report, a demand rejected by the Government.

The agitation turned violent on Saturday after Adani Group, which wanted to resume the construction which had been stopped for the last three months. It resumed the construction Saturday in the wake of a high court order, which had prevented the agitators from obstructing the work and asked the state government to provide police protection. Over two dozen trucks which came with boulders for the construction of the breakwater had to be taken back from the project site due to the stiff resistance from the fishermen. A local people’s committee in favour of the project, under the aegis of Hindu organisations, has also joined the issue, against the agitating fishermen. Both sides had clashed on Saturday.
 

Related:

Opposition to the Vizhinjam Port Project must be seen in the wider context of protecting coastal ecology and communities

Kerala fisherfolk’s persistent battle against the seaport development project

Kerala against Adani takeover of Trivandrum International Airport

Indian Fishworkers protest at 23 ports and harbours against proposed shipping corridor

Why We Must Say No to Vizhinjam Project

Anti-Adani Kerala sea port protest: 3,000 booked over alleged police station attack at Vizhinjam, all-party meeting today

While the police has stated that the protesters had provoked the violence, the representative of the protesters’ has stated that the “violence was scripted by the ruling party with help of the BJP”

fisherman
Fishermen belonging to the Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese burn their boats during a protest against the Vizhinjam port project, at Mulloor, Thiruvananthapuram, October 27, 2022. Photograph: ANI Photo 

A large crowd of agitators is reported to have “attacked” the Vizhinjam police station in Thiruvananthapuram in protest against the construction of Adani port, allegedly injuring at least 29 policemen and damaging police vehicles reported PTI. Some unconfirmed media reports suggest that some priests of the Catholic church are supporting the protesters.

While more details are not yet known, PTI has stated that “the mob targeted the police station using sticks and bricks, and attacked police officers after a person was arrested and a few others were taken into custody in connection with the protests on November 26.” On Constitution Day, November 26, fisherfolk belonging to the minority community protested the loss of livelihood that would follow the construction of this project, something that has been opposed given that Trivandum already has a successful and viable sea port already." At least 29 policemen have been injured and admitted to various hospitals," a special branch police official told PTI. Another media report states that “as many as 36 policemen and around 20 agitators were injured in the violence, which rocked the Vizhinjam region on Sunday night.”

fisherman
Archbishop among 15 priests booked for Adani port stir

Considering the sensitive situation prevailing in the area, the Kerala government has deployed more police officials from other districts. The agitators also reportedly attacked media-persons who were present at the site. ACV local channel camera-person Sherif M John was attacked by the protesters, who damaged his camera and snatched his cellphone. John has been shifted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital.Meanwhile, the district administration has initiated peace talks with the church authorities and its representative, Fr Eugene Perera, said the church wants to maintain peace. "We will speak to the protesters. I came here to resolve the matter in a peaceful manner," he told the media.

Senior officials, including the district collector, city police commissioner and sub-collector, have called a reconciliatory meeting with the protesters at Kovalam animation centre. The church authorities and government officials are expected to talk to the media after the meeting. The police have also arranged tight security in the Vizhinjam region.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Police on Monday. November 28,  registered two separate FIRs, In the second, a case against 3,000 persons in connection with the fishermen’s attack Sunday night on a police station at Vizhinjam, where they have been protesting against Adani Group’s Vizhinjam International Seaport Limited. The FIR said the protesters wanted the police to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday's violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh, it said.

This FIR states that 3,000 people laid siege to the police station, held the officials hostage for several hours, vandalised the furniture and damaged several vehicles parked on the premises of the station. It said the protesters wanted to release five men who were taken into custody over Saturday’s violence and threatened to torch the policemen alive if they were not released. The police department incurred a loss of Rs 85 lakh from the attack, the FIR said.

The first FIR for Saturday’s “violence” filed by the police booked Thiruvananthapuram Archbishop Thomas Netto, auxiliary bishop R Kristudas and several priests of the archdiocese. The complaint states that the violence took place during the fishermen’s protest against Adani’s bid to resume work. Among those named in the FIR, names include at least 15 Catholic priests, including metropolitan archbishop Thomas J Netto and Perera, over the violence at Vizhinjam on Saturday. The archbishop was made the first accused in the FIR. However, in the second FIR, the police did not name anyone in the FIR registered in connection with Sunday’s attack on the police station.

Interestingly, the Vizhinjam Action Council Convener Fr Eugene Pereira alleged the violence was scripted by the ruling CPI(M) with the backing of external elements, including the BJP. “We are challenging the government to order a judicial probe into the incidents in the last two days. Police had provoked the fishermen. On Sunday, the police took into custody person who was not involved in Saturday’s attack. Later, when four others went to the station to enquire about the custody of a fisherman, they were also detained at the station, leading to the tension,’’ he said.

Kerala State Port Development Minister Ahamed Devarkovil said an all-party meeting would be held on Monday. “The district collector was asked to convene an all-party meeting to ensure peace in the region. He would also hold discussions with the agitators. The issue is coming up before the high court on Monday. The government would also consider the outcome from the high court before deciding further action. The agitators had given an assurance at the high court that they would not obstruct the construction. Now, that assurance to the court has been breached,’’ he said.

The ADGP M R Ajit Kumar told the Indian Express that the situation was under control and no untoward incident was reported on Monday. Of the five fishermen taken into custody, four of them were released on bail from the station, while another person was remanded in judicial custody, he said.

It may be recalled, that fishermen who have a successful livelihood that is being directly threatened, have been protesting against the Rs 7,500-crore project for more than the last four months, alleging that its construction caused massive sea erosion, leading to loss of livelihood and dwellings. The state government has recently formed an expert committee, but the fishermen’s demand for including their representative in the panel was rejected. They wanted the construction to be suspended until the study report, a demand rejected by the Government.

The agitation turned violent on Saturday after Adani Group, which wanted to resume the construction which had been stopped for the last three months. It resumed the construction Saturday in the wake of a high court order, which had prevented the agitators from obstructing the work and asked the state government to provide police protection. Over two dozen trucks which came with boulders for the construction of the breakwater had to be taken back from the project site due to the stiff resistance from the fishermen. A local people’s committee in favour of the project, under the aegis of Hindu organisations, has also joined the issue, against the agitating fishermen. Both sides had clashed on Saturday.
 

Related:

Opposition to the Vizhinjam Port Project must be seen in the wider context of protecting coastal ecology and communities

Kerala fisherfolk’s persistent battle against the seaport development project

Kerala against Adani takeover of Trivandrum International Airport

Indian Fishworkers protest at 23 ports and harbours against proposed shipping corridor

Why We Must Say No to Vizhinjam Project

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Mazdoor Kisan Maha Panchayat staged by Besonika Mazdoor Union in Manesar 

22 Nov 2022
Manesar

In Manesar in Haryana.the Besonika Mazdoor Union held a Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat from 10 p.m to 3 p.m at the Gurgaon District Collectors office, protesting the anti-people policies of Modi govt.and pro-capitalist designs of the rulers

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan ) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan was present with other peasant organisation leaders. Workers organisations from Gurgaon and Uttarakhand also joined. Interarc Workers in preparation stage a mini-maha panchayat a few days ago in Uttarakahand. Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra also made a considerable contribution, through ideological-political campaigning. Cloth Mazdooor Union workers, Ineterarc workers from Uttarakhand, Hitachi Contract workers, and Aisan workers also participated.

Belsonika Union secretary Ajit Singh explained the objectives of the Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat and narrated the goal of the four labour laws instated by Narendra Modi and why it was essential to get them scrapped.

Ajit elaborated the strategy of the management to break the backbone of the workers organised movement by installing contract labour system, retrenching old workers, bringing in fresh team trainees and dismantling trade Unions. Unemployment has scaled unprecedented levels, with all permanent workers replaced by contract or badly workers.

Ajit went on to narrate how the workers and peasants waged a battle against a common enemy and their struggle could not bee viewed in isolation of each other. He stated it was imperative that it forged unity in struggles in a common front, by linking issues. Both classes were equally victimised by the government policies.

It was time for the workers and peasants to challenge the wrath of capitalism and raise a national level stir against the ruling BJP and imperative to undertake a ground level preparatory campaign to build a collective organisation.

Ironic that last year on November 14th, the Mazdoor Kisan panchayat staged an identical programme, in which workers participated in huge numbers.

For some days Belsonika Union undertook meticulous preparatory work to stage the panchayat, through leafleting, postering and social media like facebook. It turned out effective. The methods they adopted in mobilising are most complementary.

We must note it is complex and challenging to unite workers and peasants on a common platform, considering differences in culture, outlook, production methods etc.The gap has to be narrowed through consistent, painstaking ideological work. Mere mobilisation can never substitute grassroots work.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who covers mass movements around India

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

Mazdoor Kisan Maha Panchayat staged by Besonika Mazdoor Union in Manesar 

Manesar

In Manesar in Haryana.the Besonika Mazdoor Union held a Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat from 10 p.m to 3 p.m at the Gurgaon District Collectors office, protesting the anti-people policies of Modi govt.and pro-capitalist designs of the rulers

Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ugrahan ) president Joginder Singh Ugrahan was present with other peasant organisation leaders. Workers organisations from Gurgaon and Uttarakhand also joined. Interarc Workers in preparation stage a mini-maha panchayat a few days ago in Uttarakahand. Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra also made a considerable contribution, through ideological-political campaigning. Cloth Mazdooor Union workers, Ineterarc workers from Uttarakhand, Hitachi Contract workers, and Aisan workers also participated.

Belsonika Union secretary Ajit Singh explained the objectives of the Mazdoor Kisan Panchayat and narrated the goal of the four labour laws instated by Narendra Modi and why it was essential to get them scrapped.

Ajit elaborated the strategy of the management to break the backbone of the workers organised movement by installing contract labour system, retrenching old workers, bringing in fresh team trainees and dismantling trade Unions. Unemployment has scaled unprecedented levels, with all permanent workers replaced by contract or badly workers.

Ajit went on to narrate how the workers and peasants waged a battle against a common enemy and their struggle could not bee viewed in isolation of each other. He stated it was imperative that it forged unity in struggles in a common front, by linking issues. Both classes were equally victimised by the government policies.

It was time for the workers and peasants to challenge the wrath of capitalism and raise a national level stir against the ruling BJP and imperative to undertake a ground level preparatory campaign to build a collective organisation.

Ironic that last year on November 14th, the Mazdoor Kisan panchayat staged an identical programme, in which workers participated in huge numbers.

For some days Belsonika Union undertook meticulous preparatory work to stage the panchayat, through leafleting, postering and social media like facebook. It turned out effective. The methods they adopted in mobilising are most complementary.

We must note it is complex and challenging to unite workers and peasants on a common platform, considering differences in culture, outlook, production methods etc.The gap has to be narrowed through consistent, painstaking ideological work. Mere mobilisation can never substitute grassroots work.

Harsh Thakor is a freelance journalist who covers mass movements around India

Courtesy: https://countercurrents.org

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Kerala: Swiggy Workers' Strike Enters Third Day in Kochi

Workers of Swiggy in Kochi are demanding a revision in the minimum remuneration for food delivery, besides timely payment of incentives and tips.

17 Nov 2022

Kerala: Swiggy Workers Strike Enters Third Day in Kochi

Kochi: The workers of Swiggy, the online food delivery platform, have been on an indefinite strike in Kochi since November 14. Around 5,000 delivery partners are on a logout strike demanding revision of the minimum remuneration for delivery. 

The workers are demanding a remuneration of Rs 35 for delivery in a 2.5 km radius against  Rs 20 for 4 km being paid now. 

The workers resorted to an indefinite strike after the tripartite talks held on November 14, by the Ernakulam district labour commissioner, failed and the demands were not accepted by the representatives of Swiggy. 

The delivery partners, as defined by the organisation, resorted to a token strike on October 31 to highlight their long pending demands. The workers, led by the Food Online Delivery Workers Union (FODWU) affiliated with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have announced to continue their strike until their demands are met.
 

‘INCREASE MINIMUM REMUNERATION’

The workers began their strike on November 14 after their demands were rejected by the management of Swiggy in the conciliation talks held by the labour officer in Kochi. The workers have been demanding to increase the remuneration which was last revised in 2018. 

Speaking to NewsClick, K N Gopi, Ernakulam district secretary of AITUC, said, “After enduring enormous physical strain in more than 14 hours of work per day, the workers are unable to survive with the measly income. They take home under Rs 500 per day, which is insufficient to run a family in any city.” 

Swiggy delivery workers participating in the protest held in Kochi.

Swiggy delivery workers participating in the protest held in Kochi.

“The present remuneration is very low, considering the fuel prices and the cost of living in a city like Kochi,” Sunil Kumar, president of the FODWU told NewsClick. “Around 80% of the remuneration they get for one delivery is spent towards fuel charges. What is left for the workers to feed themselves and their families?” he said.
 

‘INCENTIVES AND TIPS UNPAID’

The workers have also flagged issues with incentives and the transfer of tips paid to them online. 

“The company is promising an incentive of Rs 300 if the executives ride for Rs 750 in a day. As soon as they reach close to achieving this amount, the workers suspect of reducing orders,” Sunil Kumar said.

The workers have alleged that the orders are frequently stopped once they drive for around Rs 650 and they receive the next orders after a couple of hours. 

“Only a few workers prepared to be idle for such long hours are receiving the incentive. Most of them, despite riding for more than 10 hours, are not receiving the incentive due to the intentional reduction in orders,” Kumar alleged. 

The workers have also pointed out non-transfer of tips paid online by customers to their accounts. 

“A considerable section of the workforce are students working part-time to make ends meet. Considering this, the customers provide tips, most of which are not transferred to the workers immediately,” a worker told NewsClick.

The union office bearers claimed that for documentation purposes, the company pays incentives and tips only to a small section of the workers. “Similar is the case of rain charges. The customer pays the charge for food delivery during rains, but the workers receiving the same is a rarity,” Kumar said,
 

ENSURE A REDRESSAL MECHANISM

The demand for a redressal mechanism for the workers to address their concerns on payment-related issues also remains unaddressed. The union has alleged that only an over-the-telephone service is available for workers, instead of an offline portal to raise their concerns. 

“The gig industry is now employing a large workforce of youth, including women. This industry has very little investment since the workers bear the expense for vehicles, fuel, maintenance charges, phone and internet. The companies should ensure nominal wages instead of exploiting the educated and poor workforce,” Kumar added.

The workers have decided to hold a massive march in Kochi to reiterate their demands, taking cue from the Zomato workers in Thiruvananthapuram, who won back benefits after four days of strike. 

Courtesy: Newsclick

Kerala: Swiggy Workers' Strike Enters Third Day in Kochi

Workers of Swiggy in Kochi are demanding a revision in the minimum remuneration for food delivery, besides timely payment of incentives and tips.

Kerala: Swiggy Workers Strike Enters Third Day in Kochi

Kochi: The workers of Swiggy, the online food delivery platform, have been on an indefinite strike in Kochi since November 14. Around 5,000 delivery partners are on a logout strike demanding revision of the minimum remuneration for delivery. 

The workers are demanding a remuneration of Rs 35 for delivery in a 2.5 km radius against  Rs 20 for 4 km being paid now. 

The workers resorted to an indefinite strike after the tripartite talks held on November 14, by the Ernakulam district labour commissioner, failed and the demands were not accepted by the representatives of Swiggy. 

The delivery partners, as defined by the organisation, resorted to a token strike on October 31 to highlight their long pending demands. The workers, led by the Food Online Delivery Workers Union (FODWU) affiliated with the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) have announced to continue their strike until their demands are met.
 

‘INCREASE MINIMUM REMUNERATION’

The workers began their strike on November 14 after their demands were rejected by the management of Swiggy in the conciliation talks held by the labour officer in Kochi. The workers have been demanding to increase the remuneration which was last revised in 2018. 

Speaking to NewsClick, K N Gopi, Ernakulam district secretary of AITUC, said, “After enduring enormous physical strain in more than 14 hours of work per day, the workers are unable to survive with the measly income. They take home under Rs 500 per day, which is insufficient to run a family in any city.” 

Swiggy delivery workers participating in the protest held in Kochi.

Swiggy delivery workers participating in the protest held in Kochi.

“The present remuneration is very low, considering the fuel prices and the cost of living in a city like Kochi,” Sunil Kumar, president of the FODWU told NewsClick. “Around 80% of the remuneration they get for one delivery is spent towards fuel charges. What is left for the workers to feed themselves and their families?” he said.
 

‘INCENTIVES AND TIPS UNPAID’

The workers have also flagged issues with incentives and the transfer of tips paid to them online. 

“The company is promising an incentive of Rs 300 if the executives ride for Rs 750 in a day. As soon as they reach close to achieving this amount, the workers suspect of reducing orders,” Sunil Kumar said.

The workers have alleged that the orders are frequently stopped once they drive for around Rs 650 and they receive the next orders after a couple of hours. 

“Only a few workers prepared to be idle for such long hours are receiving the incentive. Most of them, despite riding for more than 10 hours, are not receiving the incentive due to the intentional reduction in orders,” Kumar alleged. 

The workers have also pointed out non-transfer of tips paid online by customers to their accounts. 

“A considerable section of the workforce are students working part-time to make ends meet. Considering this, the customers provide tips, most of which are not transferred to the workers immediately,” a worker told NewsClick.

The union office bearers claimed that for documentation purposes, the company pays incentives and tips only to a small section of the workers. “Similar is the case of rain charges. The customer pays the charge for food delivery during rains, but the workers receiving the same is a rarity,” Kumar said,
 

ENSURE A REDRESSAL MECHANISM

The demand for a redressal mechanism for the workers to address their concerns on payment-related issues also remains unaddressed. The union has alleged that only an over-the-telephone service is available for workers, instead of an offline portal to raise their concerns. 

“The gig industry is now employing a large workforce of youth, including women. This industry has very little investment since the workers bear the expense for vehicles, fuel, maintenance charges, phone and internet. The companies should ensure nominal wages instead of exploiting the educated and poor workforce,” Kumar added.

The workers have decided to hold a massive march in Kochi to reiterate their demands, taking cue from the Zomato workers in Thiruvananthapuram, who won back benefits after four days of strike. 

Courtesy: Newsclick

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Fewer Jobs, Lower Wages: Workers Flay Centre for Neglecting their Interests

Hundreds of workers, led by Delhi-based Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday demanding declaration of Rs. 26,000 per month as minimum wage.

15 Nov 2022

Workers from multiple states including West Bengal, Karnataka, among others, gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

Workers from multiple states including West Bengal, Karnataka, among others, gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

New Delhi: The monthly wages of the industrial worker Komal Kant Prajapati, who has had to switch four jobs in the last ten years, are so low that he could never afford to call his wife and five-year-old son to live with him in Haryana’s auto hub Manesar.

Instead, Prajapati, 35, chose to share a room with four other workers and skips a meal on some days – all in an attempt to save some money, which can be sent back to his family living back in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district. “The tough fight to survive has only got tougher now,” he told NewsClick on Sunday. “I lost my job last month. With no work in hand, I have no other option but to leave the city,” he added.

The struggle of Prajapati illustrates how workers in the country continue to reel under the pressure of a weak economy which has failed to ensure an adequate income for its labourers over the years and is now failing even to create enough jobs. To register their protest against not just this, hundreds of them, led by one Delhi-based Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), gathered here at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday.

MASA is the coming together of around 16 sectoral unions and federations across the country. As such, workers from different states including Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Haryana, among others, had gathered to press for a six-point common charter of demands.

Among their major demands include a declaration of Rs. 26,000 per month as minimum wage for all workers across the country, provision of Rs. 15,000 per month as a subsistence allowance to all the unemployed, and repeal of the four “anti-worker” Labour Codes.

Hare Krishna Mathur, 43, hailing from West Bengal’s Purulia district, shared Prajapati’s pain and frustration but is still refusing to throw in the towel even though ever since the pandemic erupted two years ago, woes of this agriculture worker have only compounded. “I think I will be working all my life, but won’t be able to save any money to live peacefully even in my old age,” he lamented while speaking to NewsClick.

Capturing this view, MASA in a memorandum submitted to President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday, underscored that “persistent inflation-unemployment-starvation” are pushing thousands of workers to “die by suicide”.

Moreover, “Workers’ legal right to unionisation is being criminalised. Scheme workers such as Bhojanmata, Anganwadi workers, and ASHA workers are being indiscriminately exploited by the government. Workers’ basic rights to ‘Permanent Jobs for Permanent Work’, and ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ have [also] been incessantly diluted in the recent past and are now being completely abolished,” the memorandum added.

The Central and the State governments are “shamelessly” providing their “unconditional support”  to corporates today, Shyambir of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, one among the constituents of MASA, told NewsClick, on the sidelines of Sunday’s demonstration. “To highlight this, today’s protest was called in which workers from different sectors took part,” he said.

A “Mazdoor Aakrosh” rally to Rashtrapati Bhawan was also called, Shyambir added, but it was only barricaded by the Delhi Police after permission for the same was denied.

To be sure in the backdrop of the passage of four Labour Codes in 2020 and the recent surge in the prices of essential commodities, similar demands have been raised by multiple trade unions in the country over recent years. According to them, the new legislation, which is yet to be implemented, is aimed at diluting hard-won workers’ rights, and hence, could trigger unrest across industries.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, MASA also demanded the stopping of the privatisation of public sector enterprises, noting that these institutions, “which were built using public resources and taxes paid by common people, are now being handed over to these capitalists so that they can profit from them.”

Universalisation of the Public Distribution System (PDS), along with healthcare and education provisions for all workers was also demanded, as slogans against the Narendra Modi – led Central government were raised.

Courtesy: Newsclick

 

Fewer Jobs, Lower Wages: Workers Flay Centre for Neglecting their Interests

Hundreds of workers, led by Delhi-based Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday demanding declaration of Rs. 26,000 per month as minimum wage.

Workers from multiple states including West Bengal, Karnataka, among others, gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

Workers from multiple states including West Bengal, Karnataka, among others, gathered at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday. Image clicked by Ronak Chhabra

New Delhi: The monthly wages of the industrial worker Komal Kant Prajapati, who has had to switch four jobs in the last ten years, are so low that he could never afford to call his wife and five-year-old son to live with him in Haryana’s auto hub Manesar.

Instead, Prajapati, 35, chose to share a room with four other workers and skips a meal on some days – all in an attempt to save some money, which can be sent back to his family living back in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur district. “The tough fight to survive has only got tougher now,” he told NewsClick on Sunday. “I lost my job last month. With no work in hand, I have no other option but to leave the city,” he added.

The struggle of Prajapati illustrates how workers in the country continue to reel under the pressure of a weak economy which has failed to ensure an adequate income for its labourers over the years and is now failing even to create enough jobs. To register their protest against not just this, hundreds of them, led by one Delhi-based Mazdoor Adhikar Sangharsh Abhiyan (MASA), gathered here at Ramleela Maidan on Sunday.

MASA is the coming together of around 16 sectoral unions and federations across the country. As such, workers from different states including Bihar, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Haryana, among others, had gathered to press for a six-point common charter of demands.

Among their major demands include a declaration of Rs. 26,000 per month as minimum wage for all workers across the country, provision of Rs. 15,000 per month as a subsistence allowance to all the unemployed, and repeal of the four “anti-worker” Labour Codes.

Hare Krishna Mathur, 43, hailing from West Bengal’s Purulia district, shared Prajapati’s pain and frustration but is still refusing to throw in the towel even though ever since the pandemic erupted two years ago, woes of this agriculture worker have only compounded. “I think I will be working all my life, but won’t be able to save any money to live peacefully even in my old age,” he lamented while speaking to NewsClick.

Capturing this view, MASA in a memorandum submitted to President Droupadi Murmu on Sunday, underscored that “persistent inflation-unemployment-starvation” are pushing thousands of workers to “die by suicide”.

Moreover, “Workers’ legal right to unionisation is being criminalised. Scheme workers such as Bhojanmata, Anganwadi workers, and ASHA workers are being indiscriminately exploited by the government. Workers’ basic rights to ‘Permanent Jobs for Permanent Work’, and ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ have [also] been incessantly diluted in the recent past and are now being completely abolished,” the memorandum added.

The Central and the State governments are “shamelessly” providing their “unconditional support”  to corporates today, Shyambir of Inqlabi Mazdoor Kendra, one among the constituents of MASA, told NewsClick, on the sidelines of Sunday’s demonstration. “To highlight this, today’s protest was called in which workers from different sectors took part,” he said.

A “Mazdoor Aakrosh” rally to Rashtrapati Bhawan was also called, Shyambir added, but it was only barricaded by the Delhi Police after permission for the same was denied.

To be sure in the backdrop of the passage of four Labour Codes in 2020 and the recent surge in the prices of essential commodities, similar demands have been raised by multiple trade unions in the country over recent years. According to them, the new legislation, which is yet to be implemented, is aimed at diluting hard-won workers’ rights, and hence, could trigger unrest across industries.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, MASA also demanded the stopping of the privatisation of public sector enterprises, noting that these institutions, “which were built using public resources and taxes paid by common people, are now being handed over to these capitalists so that they can profit from them.”

Universalisation of the Public Distribution System (PDS), along with healthcare and education provisions for all workers was also demanded, as slogans against the Narendra Modi – led Central government were raised.

Courtesy: Newsclick

 

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Broken promises: Assam govt’s decision to abolish 8,000 teaching posts widely condemned

Organisations cutting across sectors and ethnicities have widely condemned the decision proudly announced by Assam chief minister Himanto Biswas Sarma though it was taken six months back

09 Nov 2022

Assam

The election promise of the state government was to provide jobs to 1 lakh unemployed youth of Assam but in reality the Assam government appears busy doing just the opposite.

The Assam State Primary Teachers’ Association (ASPTA) has reacted sharply and critically to the Assam government’s decision to unilaterally abolish the posts of 8,000 primary school teachers claiming that posts are lying vacant. On November 7, 2022, Dr Bijaya Choudhary, secretary to the government of Assam formally announced the decision taken by the Assam cabinet on May 26, 2020.

General Secretary of ASPTA, Ratul Goswami reacting sharply told the media , "Assam needs more teachers in the government sector, as around 3,000 government-run elementary schools still have one or two teachers. Why can’t the government absorb the contractual teachers into theregular (permanent) posts instead of abolishing the regular posts altogether?”

A recent survey conducted by the Assam State Primary Teachers Association (ASPTA) in March 2022 revealed shockingly, that there are 1,664 lower primary schools in the state that are running in a single room and altogether 3,716 schools are running with just a single teacher in the state. The survey covered 33,829 lower primary schools located in 51 sub divisions of all 32 districts of the state. Moreover, around 10,000 lower primary schools don't have any electricity connection and thousands of schools in Assam dint have sanitization facilities, reveals the report.

After the announcement by the education secretary, the state education minister of Assam Ranoj Pegu also confirmed the decision and cited reasons that were vague and inspiring. He said that these posts were being abolished to “avoid duplicity and financial neutrality.” 

 

 

Prominent Assamese intellectual and social scientist Dr. Hiren Gohain told Sabrangindia, "Our unemployed youth are hopping that they will find job. That means that theGoverment should increase posts. But it is unfortunate that, on the contrary, the government wants to weaken the education system. As a result of such decisions, common people will be greatly affected. This will weaken the institution of public education. Then people will be forced to go for private education, which is a perilous path as we know."

This decision of the Assam government has evinced a reaction of indignation and criticism in Assamese circles. Tragically however, the political opposition in the state has not articulated any position on the issue nor launched any agitations or protests.

However the Students Federations of India (SFI) and DYFI have not only issued statements but have planned to launch agitations too. SFI’s representative, Sangita Das and DYFI Assam state secretary Ritu Ranjan Das have jointly released a press statement. The government has decided to hit at the future of educated youth of the state with this decision, the statement says while thousands of TET candidates have been hopeful for jobs in the teaching profession. The statement also alleges that the state government's financial situation is in deep crisis due to overspending, and unplanned and unproductive sectors. This is what has led the BJP government in the state to abolish the permanent posts of teachers. The DYFI and SFI have announced that they will launch protests soon if the BJP-led Assam government does not cancel the anti-education and anti-employment decision. 

Both organisations have also appealed to TET candidates, teachers and conscious people to protest against the government's stubborn decision.

Meanwhile, Abul Kalam Azad, Education Secratary of All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) told Sabrangindia, "Government has taken the decision to reduce the burden of loan (deficit). It is very sad that the government has destroyed the permanent posts for it. We at AAMSU strongly condemned it."

 He also added that, "When most of the schools are running with single teacher at the same time this unilateral decision is not acceptable." AAMSU has demanded a reconsideration of this decision.

Meanwhile, Brojogopal Sarkar, General Secretary of All BTR Bengali Youth Students' Fedaration (ABBYSF) told Sabrangindia, "We strongly condemn this outrageousdecision. This is another step towards the privatisation of all sectors, this time by destroying governmental education system."  He also commented that, "it will basically affected the rural poor people of Assam." https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

He continued, "it's a clear conspiracy to destroy the Bengali, Bodo, Assamese and other vernacular medium of languages."

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) claimed that the BJP government in Assam has sounded a death knell to vernacular medium institutions in the state.

Since teacher and youth organisations have come together to articulate an opposition and left organisations have also vocalised their protest, it is to be seen whether the Assam government yields to public condemnation and outrage.


Related:

Haryana: Why are 40,000 teachers’ posts lying vacant?
UP: Aspiring teachers call for mass protests following brutal lathi-charge
Direct funds to guardians solves nothing: UP activists on gov’t education
33% Teaching Posts Vacant, Indian University Crisis Hits Rankings, Teaching, Research

Broken promises: Assam govt’s decision to abolish 8,000 teaching posts widely condemned

Organisations cutting across sectors and ethnicities have widely condemned the decision proudly announced by Assam chief minister Himanto Biswas Sarma though it was taken six months back

Assam

The election promise of the state government was to provide jobs to 1 lakh unemployed youth of Assam but in reality the Assam government appears busy doing just the opposite.

The Assam State Primary Teachers’ Association (ASPTA) has reacted sharply and critically to the Assam government’s decision to unilaterally abolish the posts of 8,000 primary school teachers claiming that posts are lying vacant. On November 7, 2022, Dr Bijaya Choudhary, secretary to the government of Assam formally announced the decision taken by the Assam cabinet on May 26, 2020.

General Secretary of ASPTA, Ratul Goswami reacting sharply told the media , "Assam needs more teachers in the government sector, as around 3,000 government-run elementary schools still have one or two teachers. Why can’t the government absorb the contractual teachers into theregular (permanent) posts instead of abolishing the regular posts altogether?”

A recent survey conducted by the Assam State Primary Teachers Association (ASPTA) in March 2022 revealed shockingly, that there are 1,664 lower primary schools in the state that are running in a single room and altogether 3,716 schools are running with just a single teacher in the state. The survey covered 33,829 lower primary schools located in 51 sub divisions of all 32 districts of the state. Moreover, around 10,000 lower primary schools don't have any electricity connection and thousands of schools in Assam dint have sanitization facilities, reveals the report.

After the announcement by the education secretary, the state education minister of Assam Ranoj Pegu also confirmed the decision and cited reasons that were vague and inspiring. He said that these posts were being abolished to “avoid duplicity and financial neutrality.” 

 

 

Prominent Assamese intellectual and social scientist Dr. Hiren Gohain told Sabrangindia, "Our unemployed youth are hopping that they will find job. That means that theGoverment should increase posts. But it is unfortunate that, on the contrary, the government wants to weaken the education system. As a result of such decisions, common people will be greatly affected. This will weaken the institution of public education. Then people will be forced to go for private education, which is a perilous path as we know."

This decision of the Assam government has evinced a reaction of indignation and criticism in Assamese circles. Tragically however, the political opposition in the state has not articulated any position on the issue nor launched any agitations or protests.

However the Students Federations of India (SFI) and DYFI have not only issued statements but have planned to launch agitations too. SFI’s representative, Sangita Das and DYFI Assam state secretary Ritu Ranjan Das have jointly released a press statement. The government has decided to hit at the future of educated youth of the state with this decision, the statement says while thousands of TET candidates have been hopeful for jobs in the teaching profession. The statement also alleges that the state government's financial situation is in deep crisis due to overspending, and unplanned and unproductive sectors. This is what has led the BJP government in the state to abolish the permanent posts of teachers. The DYFI and SFI have announced that they will launch protests soon if the BJP-led Assam government does not cancel the anti-education and anti-employment decision. 

Both organisations have also appealed to TET candidates, teachers and conscious people to protest against the government's stubborn decision.

Meanwhile, Abul Kalam Azad, Education Secratary of All Assam Minority Students Union (AAMSU) told Sabrangindia, "Government has taken the decision to reduce the burden of loan (deficit). It is very sad that the government has destroyed the permanent posts for it. We at AAMSU strongly condemned it."

 He also added that, "When most of the schools are running with single teacher at the same time this unilateral decision is not acceptable." AAMSU has demanded a reconsideration of this decision.

Meanwhile, Brojogopal Sarkar, General Secretary of All BTR Bengali Youth Students' Fedaration (ABBYSF) told Sabrangindia, "We strongly condemn this outrageousdecision. This is another step towards the privatisation of all sectors, this time by destroying governmental education system."  He also commented that, "it will basically affected the rural poor people of Assam." https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif

He continued, "it's a clear conspiracy to destroy the Bengali, Bodo, Assamese and other vernacular medium of languages."

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) claimed that the BJP government in Assam has sounded a death knell to vernacular medium institutions in the state.

Since teacher and youth organisations have come together to articulate an opposition and left organisations have also vocalised their protest, it is to be seen whether the Assam government yields to public condemnation and outrage.


Related:

Haryana: Why are 40,000 teachers’ posts lying vacant?
UP: Aspiring teachers call for mass protests following brutal lathi-charge
Direct funds to guardians solves nothing: UP activists on gov’t education
33% Teaching Posts Vacant, Indian University Crisis Hits Rankings, Teaching, Research

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Failing to get justice for a decade, sacked Maruti workers decide to fight it out legally

08 Nov 2022

maruti workers

As and when the history of the struggles of industrial workers against injustice in India is written, will a detailed chapter be devoted to the various injustices suffered by Maruti vehicle workers in Manesar (Haryana) following the violence of July 2012?

More than a decade later this struggle is still continuing, as was visible in the hunger strike of a large number of these workers in Gurugram, Haryana, recently.

Going back to those days in 2012 when this chain of events started, there had been a growing feeling among citizens dedicated to justice and workers' rights that Maruti workers had been the victims of several injustices in recent years.

Some reports on working conditions which prevailed here and gave rise to unrest among workers indicated that the working conditions were so tight and rigid as to create health hazards for workers. The injustices faced by non-regular, contract workers were the most acute. They received much lesser wages and suffered more problems.

There were deliberate efforts to put more workers in this category, even if their work was of a regular and permanent nature. It had also been pointed out that whenever workers made efforts to form a genuine union committed to their welfare, repression against them was stepped up.

A true democracy based on justice and equality can flourish only if all sections of people have access to justice. Sometimes when the poor living in very remote villages suffer shocking injustice, it is said that their remoteness led to denial of justice to them from our democratic system. But in the case of Maruti workers injustice was suffered very close to the capital city and had yet gone largely unreported and unquestioned.

Once industrial unrest grew, violent incidents were reported. Any violence and loss of life is very unfortunate. Anyone responsible for this should be condemned and should get deserving punishment.

But what cannot be denied is that the versions of violent events given by the management and the workers were very different. In the interest of democracy and in the interest of truth, it was important that workers' version should also be properly heard and carefully considered.

It was important that truth should prevail and any move to implicate workers in false cases by powerful persons should have been checked at the outset. The available evidence indicates that several innocent workers and their family members had to suffer a lot.

If the government and the labour department did not come forward to protect truth and justice in such an important case so close to the capital of India, then how can we maintain the trust of workers in the ability of our democracy to provide justice to them?

Nearly 148 workers were arrested. 546 permanent workers were sacked by the company in 2012. About 400 of them were sacked citing ‘loss of confidence’ even though they were not accused of any violence. As they carried the stigma of loss of confidence and termination by a leading company, an industrial giant, many of them could not get employment elsewhere or faced a lot of problems in this.

After about to years, On July 27, 2014, this writer had issued an appeal for justice and help for 148 jailed Maruti workers. These workers were languishing in jail following the unfortunate incident at Manesar plant in Haryana in July 2012. 

Since then several reports and eminent activists have expressed their surprise and indignation at the imprisonment of such a large number of workers and the one-sided actions ignoring the workers’ point of view of the happenings of July 2012. Trade unions have emphasized that the point of view of many innocent workers was not heard properly.

This appeal of year 2014 also pointed out that many of the imprisoned workers were in very poor health conditions. Their families had suffered untold hardships during the last two years, to the extent of being denied the basic essentials of life.

They also suffered great hardship in travelling long distances to meet their (imprisoned) family members whom they had sent to work in such a big company with great hopes. Family members had also been very distressed by the fact that for such a long time bail had been denied which was rare.

Notably, the skilled and technically trained workers who came to join Maruti-Suzuki even from far away parts of the country had come with high hopes to the highly reputed company, carrying with them even higher hopes of family members who believed sincerely that once a young man joins such a world-famous company success and prosperity are assured. They could hardly have foreseen that a journey begun with such high hopes would end all too soon in tears, shattered health and even imprisonment!

All this happened during the Congress rule in Haryana when the chief Minister was Bhupinder Singh Hooda, son of a great freedom fighter who did not hesitate to collude in and inflict such grave injustice on workers (while the union government was also in the hands of UPA/Congress government).
If someone wants to do a case study of how and why the Congress during those days lost the confidence of people then this shocking victimization of workers can be an appropriate case study for this.

Out of the 148 workers arrested, in 2017 the trial court at Gurugram convicted 31 and acquitted 117. Even those released had lost some of the best years of life in jail and while undergoing great tension and experiencing other health problems as well, apart from economic ruin.

An obstinate, ill thought-out, cruel decision of a few extremely powerful persons and the willingness of corrupt, undemocratic authorities to carry this forward has ruined so many promising, innocent lives.

Recently, a hunger strike by several sacked workers to get back their jobs has attracted attention to the struggle of these Maruti workers. Having suffered so much, these workers deserve much more Let us see how various political parties now respond to this, now that they are also preparing for elections.
For the Congress, with its current emphasis on social justice, this can be a time of prayashchit (penance), to atone for its sins of 2012-14. Will it do something big for these workers?

The BJP is now the ruling party in the centre and the state. Even if it does not go the extent of ensuring their re-employment in Maruti, it can at least give them a generous rehabilitation grant and get the due credit for securing some justice in a case of injustice caused by the previous Congress government.
The Aam Aadmi Party is in the most convenient position -- it only has to make a promise of some specific act of justice or generosity to these victims of injustice, if it comes to power. This will get it support among a lot of other industrial workers as well.

Out of 546 sacked workers, about 340 are reported to have sought the path of pursuing the matter legally and they can hopefully get back their jobs also through the rather slow-moving wheels of justice. Hence legal help for them should also be strengthened. In addition there is a strong justice-based need for reconsidering the cases of those Maruti workers who are still in jail.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; his recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘Planet in Peril’ and ‘Man over Machine'

Courtesy: https://www.counterview.net

Failing to get justice for a decade, sacked Maruti workers decide to fight it out legally

maruti workers

As and when the history of the struggles of industrial workers against injustice in India is written, will a detailed chapter be devoted to the various injustices suffered by Maruti vehicle workers in Manesar (Haryana) following the violence of July 2012?

More than a decade later this struggle is still continuing, as was visible in the hunger strike of a large number of these workers in Gurugram, Haryana, recently.

Going back to those days in 2012 when this chain of events started, there had been a growing feeling among citizens dedicated to justice and workers' rights that Maruti workers had been the victims of several injustices in recent years.

Some reports on working conditions which prevailed here and gave rise to unrest among workers indicated that the working conditions were so tight and rigid as to create health hazards for workers. The injustices faced by non-regular, contract workers were the most acute. They received much lesser wages and suffered more problems.

There were deliberate efforts to put more workers in this category, even if their work was of a regular and permanent nature. It had also been pointed out that whenever workers made efforts to form a genuine union committed to their welfare, repression against them was stepped up.

A true democracy based on justice and equality can flourish only if all sections of people have access to justice. Sometimes when the poor living in very remote villages suffer shocking injustice, it is said that their remoteness led to denial of justice to them from our democratic system. But in the case of Maruti workers injustice was suffered very close to the capital city and had yet gone largely unreported and unquestioned.

Once industrial unrest grew, violent incidents were reported. Any violence and loss of life is very unfortunate. Anyone responsible for this should be condemned and should get deserving punishment.

But what cannot be denied is that the versions of violent events given by the management and the workers were very different. In the interest of democracy and in the interest of truth, it was important that workers' version should also be properly heard and carefully considered.

It was important that truth should prevail and any move to implicate workers in false cases by powerful persons should have been checked at the outset. The available evidence indicates that several innocent workers and their family members had to suffer a lot.

If the government and the labour department did not come forward to protect truth and justice in such an important case so close to the capital of India, then how can we maintain the trust of workers in the ability of our democracy to provide justice to them?

Nearly 148 workers were arrested. 546 permanent workers were sacked by the company in 2012. About 400 of them were sacked citing ‘loss of confidence’ even though they were not accused of any violence. As they carried the stigma of loss of confidence and termination by a leading company, an industrial giant, many of them could not get employment elsewhere or faced a lot of problems in this.

After about to years, On July 27, 2014, this writer had issued an appeal for justice and help for 148 jailed Maruti workers. These workers were languishing in jail following the unfortunate incident at Manesar plant in Haryana in July 2012. 

Since then several reports and eminent activists have expressed their surprise and indignation at the imprisonment of such a large number of workers and the one-sided actions ignoring the workers’ point of view of the happenings of July 2012. Trade unions have emphasized that the point of view of many innocent workers was not heard properly.

This appeal of year 2014 also pointed out that many of the imprisoned workers were in very poor health conditions. Their families had suffered untold hardships during the last two years, to the extent of being denied the basic essentials of life.

They also suffered great hardship in travelling long distances to meet their (imprisoned) family members whom they had sent to work in such a big company with great hopes. Family members had also been very distressed by the fact that for such a long time bail had been denied which was rare.

Notably, the skilled and technically trained workers who came to join Maruti-Suzuki even from far away parts of the country had come with high hopes to the highly reputed company, carrying with them even higher hopes of family members who believed sincerely that once a young man joins such a world-famous company success and prosperity are assured. They could hardly have foreseen that a journey begun with such high hopes would end all too soon in tears, shattered health and even imprisonment!

All this happened during the Congress rule in Haryana when the chief Minister was Bhupinder Singh Hooda, son of a great freedom fighter who did not hesitate to collude in and inflict such grave injustice on workers (while the union government was also in the hands of UPA/Congress government).
If someone wants to do a case study of how and why the Congress during those days lost the confidence of people then this shocking victimization of workers can be an appropriate case study for this.

Out of the 148 workers arrested, in 2017 the trial court at Gurugram convicted 31 and acquitted 117. Even those released had lost some of the best years of life in jail and while undergoing great tension and experiencing other health problems as well, apart from economic ruin.

An obstinate, ill thought-out, cruel decision of a few extremely powerful persons and the willingness of corrupt, undemocratic authorities to carry this forward has ruined so many promising, innocent lives.

Recently, a hunger strike by several sacked workers to get back their jobs has attracted attention to the struggle of these Maruti workers. Having suffered so much, these workers deserve much more Let us see how various political parties now respond to this, now that they are also preparing for elections.
For the Congress, with its current emphasis on social justice, this can be a time of prayashchit (penance), to atone for its sins of 2012-14. Will it do something big for these workers?

The BJP is now the ruling party in the centre and the state. Even if it does not go the extent of ensuring their re-employment in Maruti, it can at least give them a generous rehabilitation grant and get the due credit for securing some justice in a case of injustice caused by the previous Congress government.
The Aam Aadmi Party is in the most convenient position -- it only has to make a promise of some specific act of justice or generosity to these victims of injustice, if it comes to power. This will get it support among a lot of other industrial workers as well.

Out of 546 sacked workers, about 340 are reported to have sought the path of pursuing the matter legally and they can hopefully get back their jobs also through the rather slow-moving wheels of justice. Hence legal help for them should also be strengthened. In addition there is a strong justice-based need for reconsidering the cases of those Maruti workers who are still in jail.
---
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now; his recent books include ‘A Day in 2071’, ‘Planet in Peril’ and ‘Man over Machine'

Courtesy: https://www.counterview.net

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400 academics & activists express solidarity with fish workers’ protest against Adani International Seaport at Vizhinjam, Kerala

Close to 400 prominent activists and academics representing many organisations, from across the country have endorsed an important statement in solidarity with the fish workers-led people's movement against the Adani International Seaport at Vizhinjam, Kerala and have also condemned the malicious slandering of activists who are questioning the socio - ecological and economic implications of the  Port Project.

07 Nov 2022

Adani go back
Representative Image | Photo: PTI

The coastal fishing community in and around Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala has been involved in a prolonged struggle against the construction of the ongoing International seaport which is being built at Vizhinjam by Adani ports. Protesters have alleged that the port has resulted in coastal erosion leading to the disappearance of coasts and the destruction of houses in the fishing villages. The dredging in the port will result in the loss of local fishing habitats leading to the destruction of the livelihood of thousands of fishing families and their displacement from the coasts. 

In 2017, Sabrangindia had carried a detailed report on how this Adani-owned port is estimated to cost a huge loss to the public exchequer and go the way of the Vallarpadam Container Terminal, which was commissioned in 2011 at a huge public cost and is today running at a loss. 

As the coastal community's sit-in protest continues against the distress caused by the Vizhinjam Adani port gathering solidarity and support at the state level, protesters have alleged that the corporate-backed media such as News 18, Janam TV, Desabhimani, Kerala Kaumudi are now resorting to blatant lies and misinformation against the protest and protesters. As a part of this concerted campaign, the statesment says that “attempts have been made to slander Ms Aleyama Vijayan who is the founder trustee of the feminist organisation Sakhi women’s resource centre and has been working for women's empowerment for the past three decades, along with AJ Vijayan, who has been working as a trade unionist and researcher in the fisheries sector since 1980.” 

It has accused that Sakhi, a women’s rights organisation based out of Thiruvananthapuram, which has no direct affiliations with the protest committee, is “receiving foreign contributions” for the protests. They have already issued a defamation suit against the media for spreading misinformation and rumours. Sigantories to this statement have said that the details on the Sakhi website show that all their activities are transparent. “We support this legal suit and wish this organisation to operate smoothly in the future,” it adds.  

The rest of the statement is reproduced here: 

“The attempt to portray the struggle as a foreign conspiracy through funding is malicious and an insult to the fishing community who is fighting against the port and its sponsors. 

“We request that all people who believe in democracy protest against this false propaganda. This slander campaign is done together with attempts by vested groups to create communal issues and problems of law and order on the coast, to divide the fishing and host communities in the name of religion. We urge the government, masses and civil society groups to positively intervene to keep communal harmony and peace. 

“The fisher folks in Vizhinjam, under the leadership of Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese, have been protesting for the last 105 days, raising seven demands, including stoppage of the construction of the seaport in Vizhinjam and a complete study on the impact and damages by the port by an independent team of experts including people representing the fisher community. 

“The rest of the six demands from the formation are:

(1) Find a sustainable solution to coastal erosion on the Thiruvananthapuram coast due to the unscientific constructions in the sea, including that caused by the Vizhinjam port construction.

(2) Provide temporary rental accommodation to people whose houses were destroyed due to coastal erosion.

(3) Plan and implement reasonable policies to rehabilitate the people who have lost their land and houses.

(4) Intervene to revoke the kerosene price hike; provide subsidised kerosene following the neighbouring state Tamil Nadu model.

(5) Provide minimum wages to the fisher folks to compensate for the loss on the days of fishing weather warnings.

(6) Find sustainable solutions to the problems instead of temporary ones. The claim that all the demands have been more or less accepted by the government has been debunked by the Convener of the protest committee, Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese, Fr. Eugene Pereira, in a press conference on October 31st, 2022. 

The statement also states that that, while it “..it is undemocratic that, instead of fulfilling their obligation to settle the strike, the ruling government is resorting to covert attempts to tarnish the repurtation coastal communities and overturn their struggle. 

“We strongly condemn attempts by certain media houses to malign civil society organisations and vilify A J Vijayan, who has been researching and writing on the eco-social impacts, the unscientific nature of the project and the contract irregularities. He has been doing so since the period of the environmental impact study during the UDF regime, which initiated the Adani port project with special interest. We believe it is essential to have independent research and scientific studies on the impact of the port on coastal communities, and any such studies should be encouraged.

“We urge the government to settle the Vizhinjam issue urgently by arriving at a reasonable and sustainable solution and defending the rights of fishing and coastal communities. 

The statement has been issued in the name of the Vizhinjam Struggle Solidarity Committee, Keralam Social Movements, Concerned Citizens Persons, Social Organizations


The signatories to the statement are: 

1. Aflatoon, Samajwadi Jan Parishad

2. Ammu Abraham, FAOW & PUCL Maharashtra (E.C.)

3. Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker

4. Anjali Bharadwaj, Collective Delhi

5. Arundhati Dhuru, National Convenor, National Alliance of Peoples Movements

6. Ashok Choudhary/ Roma , All India Union of Forest Working People

7. Avinash Kumar , Former Director, Amnesty International India.

8. Aysha, Right to Food Campaign

9. Chandana Pusapati, Dakshin Foundation

10. Delhi Solidarity Group

11. Devaki Jain, Economist, Writer

12. Dr. John Dayal, Writer, Human Rights Activist

13. Dr. Ram Puniyani, National Solidarity Forum

14. Dr. Suneelam Ex MLA

15. Dr. Syeda Hammed, Former Member Planning Commission

16. Evita Das - Pakistan India Peoples' forum for peace and democracy

17. G Devarajan, Gen Sec All India Forward Bloc

18. Gabriele Dietrich Movement for Womrn's Rightss

19. Geeta Seshu, Co-Editor, Free Speech Collective

20. Gutta Rohith, Human Rights Forum

21. Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF

22. Joy Sinha - COLLECTIVE Delhi

23. K Babu Rao, HRF, President, Hyderabad City

24. K P Sasi, Activist Film Maker

25. K. G. Jagadeesan trustee Centre Gandhi Smark Nidhi

26. K. J. Joy, Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pune

27. K. Sajaya, Women & Transgender Orgs JAC, Hyderabad.

28. Kalyani Menon – Sen, Feminist researcher/activist

29. Krishnakant (NAPM, Gujarat)

30. Leena Dabiru, Anhad, Delhi

31. Madhu Bhushan, Women's rights activist, Bangalore

32. Madhuri, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan Madhya Pradesh

33. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachavo Aandolan

34. Meera Sanghamitra (National Alliance of People's Movements), NAPM

35. N.D.Pancholi, Citizens For Democracy, Delhi

36. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social Activist. Chennai Solidarity Group. Chennai

37. Pradip Chatterjee, National Convener, National Platform for Small Scale Fish

Workers

38. Priya Dharshini, Finanical Accountability Network India

39. Prof. S. P Udayakumar, Anti nuclear activist

40. Prof. Sandeep Pandey, Writer, Social Activist

41. Prafulla Samantara, Environmentalist, NAPM

42. Ranjit Sur, APDR

43. Sandeep Pandey Socialist Party (India)

44. Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha

45. Subhash Lomte, Swaraj India

46. Tapas Das, National Convenior, Nodi Bachao Jibon Bachao Andalon

47. Vidya Dinker, President, INSAF

48. Vihaan Vee - Ambedkarite, Queer Feminist Activist

49. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

50. Yash, Let India Breathe

51. Yugma Collective

52. A Sunil Dharan, Motilal Nehru College (Delhi University)

53. A.Suneetha, Independent Researcher, Hyderabad

54. Alaka Basu, Researcher

55. Amod Shah, PhD Researcher

56. Asha Achy Joseph, Dean, SH School of Communication, SH College, Thevara, Kochi

57. Brinelle Dsouza, Chairperson, Centre for Health and Mental Health, TISS

58. Chhaya Datar Ex-professor of Women's Studies in TISS

59. Devika, feminist scholar

60. Dr . K.P Rammohan, Economist

61. Dr. K. G. Tara, Former Head, Disaster Management Centre

62. Dr. Karuna DW,

63. Dr. Mary George, Economist

64. Dr. P. A. Azeez, Salim Ali Centre For Ornithology And Natural History

65. Dr. T. G. Jacob

66. Frans Manjali, Prof. Linguistics, JNU

67. Hariprasath R, Researcher

68. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Independent Researcher

69. Kochurani Abraham, feminist theologian, Kerala

70. M. Dasan, Dalit Thinker

71. Maggie Allessu, Vidhyadeep college, Gujarat

72. Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University College

73. Nivedita Menon, Professor JNU

74. Padma Velaskar ,Professor (Retd) TISS

75. Prof. Iris

76. Prof. Janaki abraham,

77. Prof. Kusum Joseph

78. Prof. Sanil V

79. Prof. Vida Sequeira (Retired)

80. Prof. Vindo Chandran

81. Rakhi Sehgal, Researcher, New Delhi

82. Rita Paes Retired Professor

83. Rohini Hensman, writer and researcher, Mumbai

84. Seethalakshmi, Independent Researcher and Activist

85. Shilpa Parthan, PhD student, University of Illinois Chicago

86. Shweta Wagh, Associate Professor, KRVIA. PhD researcher IIT Bombay

87. Soma K P, Independent researcher

88. Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts Amherst

89. Trisha Gupta, University of Oxford

90. Vineetha Venugopal, Researcher

Poets, writers and solidarity from Kerala Groups

91. B Rajeevan, Cultural critic

92. Binitha Thampi, Poet

93. C Radhakrishnan, Novelist

94. Damodar Prasad, Journalist

95. Dr. Ambikasuthan Mangad

Academicians / Writers

96. Fr. Jose Kaliekkal ,

97. Hameed Vaniyambalam, state president welfare party

98. Joseph Jude, Kerala Regional Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC) state vice-president

99. K Ajitha, Feminist activist, Anweshi

100. K. Sahadevan, writter

101. Kalpatta Narayan, writter

102. KG Sankarapilla (KGS), Poet

103. Kumar Kalanand Mani, Save the Western Ghats Movement

104. Kuripuzha Sreekumar, Poet

105. Pandavath Baburaj, Activist Film Maker

106. S Rajeevan, K Rail Virudha Jankeeya Samara Samiti

107. Sarath Cheloor, State Coordinator, NAPM- Keralam

108. Savithri Rajeevan, Poet

109. Sridhar Radhakrishnan , Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedhi

110. V Dinakaran , Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha

111. Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, State Convenor, NAPM Keralam

Solidarity from across the country

112. A.K. Shibu raj

113. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori Rural, HP

114. Adv K V. Bhadrakumari

115. Adv Pyoli Swatija

116. Adv. John Joseph

117. Adv. Joseph Paull

118. Adv. Vinod Payada

119. AK Jayasree

120. Alaka Basu

121. Allwyn Dsouza

122. Amit Singh

123. Amrita Shodhan

124. Anil E.P

125. Anita Cheria, Bangalore

126. Anitha Ruban

127. Anitha Shanti Treewalk

128. Anna SJC Social Activist.Karnataka

129. Annette Fernandes MBBS

130. Annie Director

131. Annie Jaise, Kerala

132. Anthony Dias

133. Anuradha Pati, Bangalore

134. Aparna, Social worker

135. Aruna Gnanadason, Chennai

136. Asha G, Trivandrum

137. Astrid Lobo, Mumbai

138. Fr. Baby Chalil

139. Balkis Bano, Trishur

140. Beatrice Joseph

141. Berguman Thomas

142. Bhubaneswar

143. Bittu K R, Karnataka Janashakti

144. Brinda Adige, Bengaluru

145. C.S. Murali shankar

146. Cecilia Crasta

147. Celine Paramundayil MMS, Kerala

148. Chakradhar, Samalochana

149. Clara Mendonca, social worker

150. Clare M. Therese, Chennai

151. clare muthukattol

152. Cynthia Stephen, Bangalore

153. Cyrilla Chakalakal Mumbai

154. Debaprasad Ray, Secretary, Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar

155. Deejao Pathrose

156. Deepa V, Delhi

157. Devika, Advocate

158. Dorothy, Social Activist

159. Dr. C. Jayakumar, Thanal

160. Dr. C. Surendranath

161. Dr. E. Unnikrishnan

162. Dr. Joyce Kaithakottil, Activist for Justice

163. Dr. Mangesh Sawant Environmentalist

164. Dr. Mercy Thomas Facilitator Nirmal Jyothi ITI

165. Elizabeth Vadakekara MMS, Kochi, Kerala

166. Elsa Muttathu, Chenn

167. Flavia Agnes, Mumbai

168. Flory Menezes

169. Fr Benny, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

170. Fr Dr Jose D. Maliekal SDB, Telengana

171. Fr Joseph, Vicar, St Joseph Church Konoor Ekm Diocese

172. Fr Thomas

173. Fr Varghese Assin, Manager, St Francis Assisi School, Nedumbassery..

174. Fr. Agustine Vattoli

175. Fr. Deepak Anto

176. Fr. George Thenadikulam, Kerala

177. Fr. Kurian Kurisunkal, Mulanthuruthy

178. Fr. Lawrence

179. Francis Xavier, supporter

180. Freny Manecksha

181. General Secretary, AIFB Odisha , Bhubaneswar

182. George Mathew

183. Glavious Alexander

184. Gopinath Haritha

185. Govind Kelkar, GenDev, Gurgaon

186. Gracy Kallookulangara

187. Growth Watch

188. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective

189. Hazel D'Lima, CRI, ICWM

190. Hazel Lobo, Mumbai

191. Holiram Terang. Political activist.

192. Immaculate.F.

193. Indira Hirway, Centre for Development Alternatives,

194. Jabeena Irshad

195. Jacob Naluparayil, Kochi, Kerala

196. Jacqueline Rumao. Jeevan vidya.

197. Jaison Coopur

198. James Dayalaya

199. Janaki Nair, JNU

200. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Delhi

201. Jesmine Fernandes

202. Jessica Prakash-Richard, Chennai

203. Jessin SJC

204. Jessy Mole Sebastian, Changanacherry, Kerala

205. Jibin Robin

206. Jinu Sam Jacob

207. Joanna, Social Worker

208. John Dsouza, Mumbai , Documentalist

209. John Peruvanthanam

210. Johnson Puthenveettil, Director, KLCA, Alleppey Diocese

211. Jolly Chirayath

212. Jose Therattil

213. Joseph Kannamkulam

214. Joseph Maniangat

215. Joseph Victor Edwin, Delhi

216. Josephine Rozario

217. Joycia , New Delhi

218. Jubin Jacob, Kanjirappally, Kerala

219. Julia George, Adv, Mumbai

220. Jyoti Ranjan Mahapatra

221. K. Ajitha

222. K. C. Sreekumar

223. K. Ramachandran

224. K. Sahadevan

225. K.G. Jagadeeshan

226. K.M. Thomas

227. K.P. Sethunath

228. K.P.Thomas, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

229. Kalyani S.

230. Karavali Karnataka Janabhivriddhi Vedike.

231. KB Kannampilly

232. KCR Raja, New Delhi

233. KhalidaParveen

234. KM Sebastian, Eluru, A.P

235. Kochurani Abraham, Kanjirappally, Kerala

236. Kusum Tripathi

237. Lakshmi Lingam, Hyderabad

238. Lanusenla Bangalore

239. Leela Soloman

240. Leena Abraham, Mumbai

241. LEVIN

242. Lisa Pires, Goa

243. Lumina da Costa, citiizen of Indiaendorse

244. M D Varghese, a freelance Eco-Social Development Advisor

245. M. Dasan, Dalit Thinker

246. M. Sulfath

247. M.D. Alice, Kochi, Kerala

248. M.K. George

249. Madhuri Mondal, programme officer

250. Magdalene Almeida

251. Mahu Bhushan, Bangalore

252. Manju Kulapuram, Activist, Delhi

253. Manju Kulapuram, Delhi

254. Manoj Kedaram, Social Worker

255. Manu

256. Marcia DCunha ICWM Thane Maharashrea

257. Marcia DCunha, Mumbai

258. Mary Vaiphei, Assam

259. Mathew Sebastian

260. Mavis Russell, Gurgoan

261. Meera RGS, Mysore

262. Mekronyi-u Thele, Nagaland

263. Mercy Alexander

264. Merlyn Dsa, Mumbai

265. Metti Amirtham,Tindivanam, Tamil Nadu

266. Mini Bedi

267. Mirsad Rahman

268. Moksha Mary- Anmol NGO Co-ordinator

269. Monisha Behal, NEN

270. Ms. Vanitha D'Souza

271. Mujahid Nafees, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

272. Muralidharan K, political activist

273. Muthapan

274. N Sarojini, SAMA, Delhi

275. N. Subramanyan

276. Namrata Lunia

277. Nancy Vaz, Mumbai

278. Nancy Vaz, Mumbai

279. Nandita Gandhi, Akshara Centre, Mumbai

280. Naseer Syed, Bangalore

281. Neerja Rajeev Prasad. Nagpur

282. Nikita Naidu, Climate Action

283. Nirmala

284. Nita Arvind, Scrum Master

285. Niti Saxena, Lucknow

286. Noela J Dias

287. Noella de Souza, ICWM, IWTF, CRI.

288. Noella de Souza, Mumbai

289. Om Prakash Singh, Cuttack

290. P k Sasidharan

291. P.T. John

292. Padmaja Shaw

293. Paniyadima John

294. Philomena D'Souza, Satyashodhak, Mumbai

295. Philomena....Provincial

296. Prabhat Sharan, Journalist

297. Prajval Shastri, astrophysicist

298. Prasad Chacko, Social Worker, Ahmedabad

299. Preeti Mehra, independent journalist, New Delhi

300. Prema Chowallur SCC

301. Prerana Gawde, Senior Programme Associate

302. Promod Puzankara

303. Pushpa Parmar

304. Pyoli, Advocate

305. Raj Shekhar, Right to Food Campaign

306. Rajesh

307. Rajnish Gambhir All India Union of Forest Working People

308. Raju kalathil,Advocate

309. Ramnarayan, Independent Ecologist

310. Raynah Marise Braganza Passanha, Pune

311. Renita

312. Rev. Indira Paul, Chennai

313. Rev. Raju P George

314. Rita Manchanda, Independent Rights Consultant

315. Robert Joseph, Teacher

316. Robi Arayakkandy. CPI(ML).

317. Rohini, Writer

318. Rosalind Elaiyarani

319. Rosamma George

320. Rosamma Thomas

321. Rose Mary Tirkey ( Social Worker)

322. Roshmi Goswami, Shillong.

323. Runu Chakraborty

324. S. Rajeevan

325. Sabina Martins

326. Sachin Chavan,

327. Salahudheen Ayyoobi, Writer

328. Sandeep kaithamparambat, artist

329. Sandeep Ravindranath

330. Sandhya Balasubramanian, Member - Growthwatch India

331. Santana Pereira, Sahayini NGO

332. Santosh Sharma

333. Sarah Mathews. Managing Trustee, Sankalp Women's Support Alliance

334. Sarath Keeraleeyam

335. Sarojini N, Public Health Practitioner

336. SAshalatha

337. Seema Bhaskaran

338. Shalini Gera, Advocate

339. Shalom Gauri, student

340. Sharad Lele, ATREE

341. Shivsunder

342. Shweta Tripathy, SRUTI, New Delhi

343. Sister Poonam cj.

344. Sr Aruna Castelino /Director of Auxilium Out Reach

345. Sr Maria Shirsath, Teacher

346. Sr. Elphina Rodrigues

347. Sr. Mary Jacintha. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Congregation

348. Sr. Melusina Colaco - religious

349. Sr. Rita D Souza - prov adminstrator

350. SR. Rita Fernandes

351. Sr. Thelma Paiva

352. Sr.Anita gracias animated

353. Sr.Marina Kalathil

354. Sreedevi S Kartha

355. Sreekala MG, Goa

356. Sridhar Radhakrishnan

357. Stella Baltazar fmm, provincial

358. Sudhir Pattanaik, Editor , The Samadrusti

359. Suneeta Dhar Activist

360. Sunirose, I. P

361. Sunny Paikada

362. Suresh Melettukochy.

363. Suresh Rathaur mmu

364. Susan Joseph, Social Worker

365. Swarna bhat, social Activist

366. Swatija Paranjape

367. T N Sushama, Freelance writer

368. Tamizharasi

369. Thresia

370. V.S. Anil Kumar

371. Vaishnavi- independent labor rights activist & journalist

372. Vandita, Morarka (founder and CEO, One Future Collective)

373. Vaneeta khristi

374. Vanita Mukherjee

375. Varsha Bhargavi, Where Are The Women Collective

376. Veena Maruthur

377. Vijayan Punnathur Retiree

378. Vishesh Guru, anthropologist

 

Related:

https://sabrangindia.in/article/opposition-vizhinjam-port-project-must-be-seen-wider-context-protecting-coastal-ecology-and

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/why-we-must-say-no-vizhinjam-project

400 academics & activists express solidarity with fish workers’ protest against Adani International Seaport at Vizhinjam, Kerala

Close to 400 prominent activists and academics representing many organisations, from across the country have endorsed an important statement in solidarity with the fish workers-led people's movement against the Adani International Seaport at Vizhinjam, Kerala and have also condemned the malicious slandering of activists who are questioning the socio - ecological and economic implications of the  Port Project.

Adani go back
Representative Image | Photo: PTI

The coastal fishing community in and around Trivandrum, the capital of Kerala has been involved in a prolonged struggle against the construction of the ongoing International seaport which is being built at Vizhinjam by Adani ports. Protesters have alleged that the port has resulted in coastal erosion leading to the disappearance of coasts and the destruction of houses in the fishing villages. The dredging in the port will result in the loss of local fishing habitats leading to the destruction of the livelihood of thousands of fishing families and their displacement from the coasts. 

In 2017, Sabrangindia had carried a detailed report on how this Adani-owned port is estimated to cost a huge loss to the public exchequer and go the way of the Vallarpadam Container Terminal, which was commissioned in 2011 at a huge public cost and is today running at a loss. 

As the coastal community's sit-in protest continues against the distress caused by the Vizhinjam Adani port gathering solidarity and support at the state level, protesters have alleged that the corporate-backed media such as News 18, Janam TV, Desabhimani, Kerala Kaumudi are now resorting to blatant lies and misinformation against the protest and protesters. As a part of this concerted campaign, the statesment says that “attempts have been made to slander Ms Aleyama Vijayan who is the founder trustee of the feminist organisation Sakhi women’s resource centre and has been working for women's empowerment for the past three decades, along with AJ Vijayan, who has been working as a trade unionist and researcher in the fisheries sector since 1980.” 

It has accused that Sakhi, a women’s rights organisation based out of Thiruvananthapuram, which has no direct affiliations with the protest committee, is “receiving foreign contributions” for the protests. They have already issued a defamation suit against the media for spreading misinformation and rumours. Sigantories to this statement have said that the details on the Sakhi website show that all their activities are transparent. “We support this legal suit and wish this organisation to operate smoothly in the future,” it adds.  

The rest of the statement is reproduced here: 

“The attempt to portray the struggle as a foreign conspiracy through funding is malicious and an insult to the fishing community who is fighting against the port and its sponsors. 

“We request that all people who believe in democracy protest against this false propaganda. This slander campaign is done together with attempts by vested groups to create communal issues and problems of law and order on the coast, to divide the fishing and host communities in the name of religion. We urge the government, masses and civil society groups to positively intervene to keep communal harmony and peace. 

“The fisher folks in Vizhinjam, under the leadership of Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese, have been protesting for the last 105 days, raising seven demands, including stoppage of the construction of the seaport in Vizhinjam and a complete study on the impact and damages by the port by an independent team of experts including people representing the fisher community. 

“The rest of the six demands from the formation are:

(1) Find a sustainable solution to coastal erosion on the Thiruvananthapuram coast due to the unscientific constructions in the sea, including that caused by the Vizhinjam port construction.

(2) Provide temporary rental accommodation to people whose houses were destroyed due to coastal erosion.

(3) Plan and implement reasonable policies to rehabilitate the people who have lost their land and houses.

(4) Intervene to revoke the kerosene price hike; provide subsidised kerosene following the neighbouring state Tamil Nadu model.

(5) Provide minimum wages to the fisher folks to compensate for the loss on the days of fishing weather warnings.

(6) Find sustainable solutions to the problems instead of temporary ones. The claim that all the demands have been more or less accepted by the government has been debunked by the Convener of the protest committee, Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese, Fr. Eugene Pereira, in a press conference on October 31st, 2022. 

The statement also states that that, while it “..it is undemocratic that, instead of fulfilling their obligation to settle the strike, the ruling government is resorting to covert attempts to tarnish the repurtation coastal communities and overturn their struggle. 

“We strongly condemn attempts by certain media houses to malign civil society organisations and vilify A J Vijayan, who has been researching and writing on the eco-social impacts, the unscientific nature of the project and the contract irregularities. He has been doing so since the period of the environmental impact study during the UDF regime, which initiated the Adani port project with special interest. We believe it is essential to have independent research and scientific studies on the impact of the port on coastal communities, and any such studies should be encouraged.

“We urge the government to settle the Vizhinjam issue urgently by arriving at a reasonable and sustainable solution and defending the rights of fishing and coastal communities. 

The statement has been issued in the name of the Vizhinjam Struggle Solidarity Committee, Keralam Social Movements, Concerned Citizens Persons, Social Organizations


The signatories to the statement are: 

1. Aflatoon, Samajwadi Jan Parishad

2. Ammu Abraham, FAOW & PUCL Maharashtra (E.C.)

3. Anand Patwardhan, Film Maker

4. Anjali Bharadwaj, Collective Delhi

5. Arundhati Dhuru, National Convenor, National Alliance of Peoples Movements

6. Ashok Choudhary/ Roma , All India Union of Forest Working People

7. Avinash Kumar , Former Director, Amnesty International India.

8. Aysha, Right to Food Campaign

9. Chandana Pusapati, Dakshin Foundation

10. Delhi Solidarity Group

11. Devaki Jain, Economist, Writer

12. Dr. John Dayal, Writer, Human Rights Activist

13. Dr. Ram Puniyani, National Solidarity Forum

14. Dr. Suneelam Ex MLA

15. Dr. Syeda Hammed, Former Member Planning Commission

16. Evita Das - Pakistan India Peoples' forum for peace and democracy

17. G Devarajan, Gen Sec All India Forward Bloc

18. Gabriele Dietrich Movement for Womrn's Rightss

19. Geeta Seshu, Co-Editor, Free Speech Collective

20. Gutta Rohith, Human Rights Forum

21. Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF

22. Joy Sinha - COLLECTIVE Delhi

23. K Babu Rao, HRF, President, Hyderabad City

24. K P Sasi, Activist Film Maker

25. K. G. Jagadeesan trustee Centre Gandhi Smark Nidhi

26. K. J. Joy, Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pune

27. K. Sajaya, Women & Transgender Orgs JAC, Hyderabad.

28. Kalyani Menon – Sen, Feminist researcher/activist

29. Krishnakant (NAPM, Gujarat)

30. Leena Dabiru, Anhad, Delhi

31. Madhu Bhushan, Women's rights activist, Bangalore

32. Madhuri, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan Madhya Pradesh

33. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachavo Aandolan

34. Meera Sanghamitra (National Alliance of People's Movements), NAPM

35. N.D.Pancholi, Citizens For Democracy, Delhi

36. Nityanand Jayaraman, Writer, Social Activist. Chennai Solidarity Group. Chennai

37. Pradip Chatterjee, National Convener, National Platform for Small Scale Fish

Workers

38. Priya Dharshini, Finanical Accountability Network India

39. Prof. S. P Udayakumar, Anti nuclear activist

40. Prof. Sandeep Pandey, Writer, Social Activist

41. Prafulla Samantara, Environmentalist, NAPM

42. Ranjit Sur, APDR

43. Sandeep Pandey Socialist Party (India)

44. Soumya Dutta, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha

45. Subhash Lomte, Swaraj India

46. Tapas Das, National Convenior, Nodi Bachao Jibon Bachao Andalon

47. Vidya Dinker, President, INSAF

48. Vihaan Vee - Ambedkarite, Queer Feminist Activist

49. Xavier Dias, Editor, Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR (Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

50. Yash, Let India Breathe

51. Yugma Collective

52. A Sunil Dharan, Motilal Nehru College (Delhi University)

53. A.Suneetha, Independent Researcher, Hyderabad

54. Alaka Basu, Researcher

55. Amod Shah, PhD Researcher

56. Asha Achy Joseph, Dean, SH School of Communication, SH College, Thevara, Kochi

57. Brinelle Dsouza, Chairperson, Centre for Health and Mental Health, TISS

58. Chhaya Datar Ex-professor of Women's Studies in TISS

59. Devika, feminist scholar

60. Dr . K.P Rammohan, Economist

61. Dr. K. G. Tara, Former Head, Disaster Management Centre

62. Dr. Karuna DW,

63. Dr. Mary George, Economist

64. Dr. P. A. Azeez, Salim Ali Centre For Ornithology And Natural History

65. Dr. T. G. Jacob

66. Frans Manjali, Prof. Linguistics, JNU

67. Hariprasath R, Researcher

68. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Independent Researcher

69. Kochurani Abraham, feminist theologian, Kerala

70. M. Dasan, Dalit Thinker

71. Maggie Allessu, Vidhyadeep college, Gujarat

72. Nandita Narain, Associate Professor, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University College

73. Nivedita Menon, Professor JNU

74. Padma Velaskar ,Professor (Retd) TISS

75. Prof. Iris

76. Prof. Janaki abraham,

77. Prof. Kusum Joseph

78. Prof. Sanil V

79. Prof. Vida Sequeira (Retired)

80. Prof. Vindo Chandran

81. Rakhi Sehgal, Researcher, New Delhi

82. Rita Paes Retired Professor

83. Rohini Hensman, writer and researcher, Mumbai

84. Seethalakshmi, Independent Researcher and Activist

85. Shilpa Parthan, PhD student, University of Illinois Chicago

86. Shweta Wagh, Associate Professor, KRVIA. PhD researcher IIT Bombay

87. Soma K P, Independent researcher

88. Swati Birla, University of Massachusetts Amherst

89. Trisha Gupta, University of Oxford

90. Vineetha Venugopal, Researcher

Poets, writers and solidarity from Kerala Groups

91. B Rajeevan, Cultural critic

92. Binitha Thampi, Poet

93. C Radhakrishnan, Novelist

94. Damodar Prasad, Journalist

95. Dr. Ambikasuthan Mangad

Academicians / Writers

96. Fr. Jose Kaliekkal ,

97. Hameed Vaniyambalam, state president welfare party

98. Joseph Jude, Kerala Regional Latin Catholic Council (KRLCC) state vice-president

99. K Ajitha, Feminist activist, Anweshi

100. K. Sahadevan, writter

101. Kalpatta Narayan, writter

102. KG Sankarapilla (KGS), Poet

103. Kumar Kalanand Mani, Save the Western Ghats Movement

104. Kuripuzha Sreekumar, Poet

105. Pandavath Baburaj, Activist Film Maker

106. S Rajeevan, K Rail Virudha Jankeeya Samara Samiti

107. Sarath Cheloor, State Coordinator, NAPM- Keralam

108. Savithri Rajeevan, Poet

109. Sridhar Radhakrishnan , Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedhi

110. V Dinakaran , Akhila Kerala Dheevara Sabha

111. Vijayaraghavan Cheliya, State Convenor, NAPM Keralam

Solidarity from across the country

112. A.K. Shibu raj

113. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori Rural, HP

114. Adv K V. Bhadrakumari

115. Adv Pyoli Swatija

116. Adv. John Joseph

117. Adv. Joseph Paull

118. Adv. Vinod Payada

119. AK Jayasree

120. Alaka Basu

121. Allwyn Dsouza

122. Amit Singh

123. Amrita Shodhan

124. Anil E.P

125. Anita Cheria, Bangalore

126. Anitha Ruban

127. Anitha Shanti Treewalk

128. Anna SJC Social Activist.Karnataka

129. Annette Fernandes MBBS

130. Annie Director

131. Annie Jaise, Kerala

132. Anthony Dias

133. Anuradha Pati, Bangalore

134. Aparna, Social worker

135. Aruna Gnanadason, Chennai

136. Asha G, Trivandrum

137. Astrid Lobo, Mumbai

138. Fr. Baby Chalil

139. Balkis Bano, Trishur

140. Beatrice Joseph

141. Berguman Thomas

142. Bhubaneswar

143. Bittu K R, Karnataka Janashakti

144. Brinda Adige, Bengaluru

145. C.S. Murali shankar

146. Cecilia Crasta

147. Celine Paramundayil MMS, Kerala

148. Chakradhar, Samalochana

149. Clara Mendonca, social worker

150. Clare M. Therese, Chennai

151. clare muthukattol

152. Cynthia Stephen, Bangalore

153. Cyrilla Chakalakal Mumbai

154. Debaprasad Ray, Secretary, Lohia Academy, Bhubaneswar

155. Deejao Pathrose

156. Deepa V, Delhi

157. Devika, Advocate

158. Dorothy, Social Activist

159. Dr. C. Jayakumar, Thanal

160. Dr. C. Surendranath

161. Dr. E. Unnikrishnan

162. Dr. Joyce Kaithakottil, Activist for Justice

163. Dr. Mangesh Sawant Environmentalist

164. Dr. Mercy Thomas Facilitator Nirmal Jyothi ITI

165. Elizabeth Vadakekara MMS, Kochi, Kerala

166. Elsa Muttathu, Chenn

167. Flavia Agnes, Mumbai

168. Flory Menezes

169. Fr Benny, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

170. Fr Dr Jose D. Maliekal SDB, Telengana

171. Fr Joseph, Vicar, St Joseph Church Konoor Ekm Diocese

172. Fr Thomas

173. Fr Varghese Assin, Manager, St Francis Assisi School, Nedumbassery..

174. Fr. Agustine Vattoli

175. Fr. Deepak Anto

176. Fr. George Thenadikulam, Kerala

177. Fr. Kurian Kurisunkal, Mulanthuruthy

178. Fr. Lawrence

179. Francis Xavier, supporter

180. Freny Manecksha

181. General Secretary, AIFB Odisha , Bhubaneswar

182. George Mathew

183. Glavious Alexander

184. Gopinath Haritha

185. Govind Kelkar, GenDev, Gurgaon

186. Gracy Kallookulangara

187. Growth Watch

188. Hasina Khan, Bebaak Collective

189. Hazel D'Lima, CRI, ICWM

190. Hazel Lobo, Mumbai

191. Holiram Terang. Political activist.

192. Immaculate.F.

193. Indira Hirway, Centre for Development Alternatives,

194. Jabeena Irshad

195. Jacob Naluparayil, Kochi, Kerala

196. Jacqueline Rumao. Jeevan vidya.

197. Jaison Coopur

198. James Dayalaya

199. Janaki Nair, JNU

200. Jashodhara Dasgupta, Delhi

201. Jesmine Fernandes

202. Jessica Prakash-Richard, Chennai

203. Jessin SJC

204. Jessy Mole Sebastian, Changanacherry, Kerala

205. Jibin Robin

206. Jinu Sam Jacob

207. Joanna, Social Worker

208. John Dsouza, Mumbai , Documentalist

209. John Peruvanthanam

210. Johnson Puthenveettil, Director, KLCA, Alleppey Diocese

211. Jolly Chirayath

212. Jose Therattil

213. Joseph Kannamkulam

214. Joseph Maniangat

215. Joseph Victor Edwin, Delhi

216. Josephine Rozario

217. Joycia , New Delhi

218. Jubin Jacob, Kanjirappally, Kerala

219. Julia George, Adv, Mumbai

220. Jyoti Ranjan Mahapatra

221. K. Ajitha

222. K. C. Sreekumar

223. K. Ramachandran

224. K. Sahadevan

225. K.G. Jagadeeshan

226. K.M. Thomas

227. K.P. Sethunath

228. K.P.Thomas, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

229. Kalyani S.

230. Karavali Karnataka Janabhivriddhi Vedike.

231. KB Kannampilly

232. KCR Raja, New Delhi

233. KhalidaParveen

234. KM Sebastian, Eluru, A.P

235. Kochurani Abraham, Kanjirappally, Kerala

236. Kusum Tripathi

237. Lakshmi Lingam, Hyderabad

238. Lanusenla Bangalore

239. Leela Soloman

240. Leena Abraham, Mumbai

241. LEVIN

242. Lisa Pires, Goa

243. Lumina da Costa, citiizen of Indiaendorse

244. M D Varghese, a freelance Eco-Social Development Advisor

245. M. Dasan, Dalit Thinker

246. M. Sulfath

247. M.D. Alice, Kochi, Kerala

248. M.K. George

249. Madhuri Mondal, programme officer

250. Magdalene Almeida

251. Mahu Bhushan, Bangalore

252. Manju Kulapuram, Activist, Delhi

253. Manju Kulapuram, Delhi

254. Manoj Kedaram, Social Worker

255. Manu

256. Marcia DCunha ICWM Thane Maharashrea

257. Marcia DCunha, Mumbai

258. Mary Vaiphei, Assam

259. Mathew Sebastian

260. Mavis Russell, Gurgoan

261. Meera RGS, Mysore

262. Mekronyi-u Thele, Nagaland

263. Mercy Alexander

264. Merlyn Dsa, Mumbai

265. Metti Amirtham,Tindivanam, Tamil Nadu

266. Mini Bedi

267. Mirsad Rahman

268. Moksha Mary- Anmol NGO Co-ordinator

269. Monisha Behal, NEN

270. Ms. Vanitha D'Souza

271. Mujahid Nafees, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

272. Muralidharan K, political activist

273. Muthapan

274. N Sarojini, SAMA, Delhi

275. N. Subramanyan

276. Namrata Lunia

277. Nancy Vaz, Mumbai

278. Nancy Vaz, Mumbai

279. Nandita Gandhi, Akshara Centre, Mumbai

280. Naseer Syed, Bangalore

281. Neerja Rajeev Prasad. Nagpur

282. Nikita Naidu, Climate Action

283. Nirmala

284. Nita Arvind, Scrum Master

285. Niti Saxena, Lucknow

286. Noela J Dias

287. Noella de Souza, ICWM, IWTF, CRI.

288. Noella de Souza, Mumbai

289. Om Prakash Singh, Cuttack

290. P k Sasidharan

291. P.T. John

292. Padmaja Shaw

293. Paniyadima John

294. Philomena D'Souza, Satyashodhak, Mumbai

295. Philomena....Provincial

296. Prabhat Sharan, Journalist

297. Prajval Shastri, astrophysicist

298. Prasad Chacko, Social Worker, Ahmedabad

299. Preeti Mehra, independent journalist, New Delhi

300. Prema Chowallur SCC

301. Prerana Gawde, Senior Programme Associate

302. Promod Puzankara

303. Pushpa Parmar

304. Pyoli, Advocate

305. Raj Shekhar, Right to Food Campaign

306. Rajesh

307. Rajnish Gambhir All India Union of Forest Working People

308. Raju kalathil,Advocate

309. Ramnarayan, Independent Ecologist

310. Raynah Marise Braganza Passanha, Pune

311. Renita

312. Rev. Indira Paul, Chennai

313. Rev. Raju P George

314. Rita Manchanda, Independent Rights Consultant

315. Robert Joseph, Teacher

316. Robi Arayakkandy. CPI(ML).

317. Rohini, Writer

318. Rosalind Elaiyarani

319. Rosamma George

320. Rosamma Thomas

321. Rose Mary Tirkey ( Social Worker)

322. Roshmi Goswami, Shillong.

323. Runu Chakraborty

324. S. Rajeevan

325. Sabina Martins

326. Sachin Chavan,

327. Salahudheen Ayyoobi, Writer

328. Sandeep kaithamparambat, artist

329. Sandeep Ravindranath

330. Sandhya Balasubramanian, Member - Growthwatch India

331. Santana Pereira, Sahayini NGO

332. Santosh Sharma

333. Sarah Mathews. Managing Trustee, Sankalp Women's Support Alliance

334. Sarath Keeraleeyam

335. Sarojini N, Public Health Practitioner

336. SAshalatha

337. Seema Bhaskaran

338. Shalini Gera, Advocate

339. Shalom Gauri, student

340. Sharad Lele, ATREE

341. Shivsunder

342. Shweta Tripathy, SRUTI, New Delhi

343. Sister Poonam cj.

344. Sr Aruna Castelino /Director of Auxilium Out Reach

345. Sr Maria Shirsath, Teacher

346. Sr. Elphina Rodrigues

347. Sr. Mary Jacintha. Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Congregation

348. Sr. Melusina Colaco - religious

349. Sr. Rita D Souza - prov adminstrator

350. SR. Rita Fernandes

351. Sr. Thelma Paiva

352. Sr.Anita gracias animated

353. Sr.Marina Kalathil

354. Sreedevi S Kartha

355. Sreekala MG, Goa

356. Sridhar Radhakrishnan

357. Stella Baltazar fmm, provincial

358. Sudhir Pattanaik, Editor , The Samadrusti

359. Suneeta Dhar Activist

360. Sunirose, I. P

361. Sunny Paikada

362. Suresh Melettukochy.

363. Suresh Rathaur mmu

364. Susan Joseph, Social Worker

365. Swarna bhat, social Activist

366. Swatija Paranjape

367. T N Sushama, Freelance writer

368. Tamizharasi

369. Thresia

370. V.S. Anil Kumar

371. Vaishnavi- independent labor rights activist & journalist

372. Vandita, Morarka (founder and CEO, One Future Collective)

373. Vaneeta khristi

374. Vanita Mukherjee

375. Varsha Bhargavi, Where Are The Women Collective

376. Veena Maruthur

377. Vijayan Punnathur Retiree

378. Vishesh Guru, anthropologist

 

Related:

https://sabrangindia.in/article/opposition-vizhinjam-port-project-must-be-seen-wider-context-protecting-coastal-ecology-and

https://www.sabrangindia.in/article/why-we-must-say-no-vizhinjam-project

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Sabrang

WB: Tea Workers Struggling as Crony Capitalists Take Over Tea Gardens

Workers are being denied minimum wages, PF, bonuses, etc. As a result, many are migrating to other states.

05 Nov 2022

tea workers

Tea workers in Bengal are fighting a losing battle against hunger as, one after another, Tea gardens are being overtaken by crony capitalists and microfinance institutions raking the moolah from Kolkata; these new managements often falter in paying the minimum wages to the tea workers of the Dooars region.

At present, such management has taken charge of 22 tea gardens, informed Ziaul Alam, convenor of the Joint Action Forum of Tea Workers.

Tea plantations in the region are spread over 97,280 hectares (240,400 acres). The region produces 226 million kg of tea, accounting for about a quarter of India's total tea crop. There are 154 gardens in the Dooars out of 283 tea gardens in north Bengal that employ 3.5 lakh workers.

Cultivation of tea in the Dooars was primarily pioneered and promoted by the British, but there was a significant contribution of Indian entrepreneurs. While Goodricke owns and operates 12 tea gardens in Dooars, Duncan company operates about tea gardens.

Prafulla Lakra, from the Jalpaiguri Sadar Tea Workers Union, is also the regional secretary of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). Speaking to NewsClick, Lakra said that the region's tea workers are being exploited.

"The tea industry is suffering from absenteeism. In the Darjeeling district, where there is scope for 11 million kg of tea production, there is now production of 6.5 million kg of tea because most male workers have gone out of the state to work as migrant workers in other states. Women now comprise over 80% of the tea workers."

Lakra works as a voucher worker and a night guard in the Denguajhar tea estate. His wife, Silvasa Lakra, works full-time in the same tea estate. He highlighted that the tea garden management gives difficult tasks to the workers during the plucking season, adding that penalties are applied if workers miss the task.

"There are two types of leaves- Fut Patti (seasoned leaves) and Jangli Patti (unseasoned leaves). For Fut Patti, a worker needs to pluck about 26 kg; for Jangli Patti, one needs to pluck around 24 kg to complete the task. About 30% of the leaf pluckers miss the tasks, and a penalty in the form of a wage cut is thrust on them. Everywhere the new generation of tea workers is now disinterested in the profession and are now moving to other states to work as migrant labourers. However, the estate laws state that only those who work in the tea garden can stay in the tea garden area, but seldom are any family ousted from the tea garden area for not working in the tea gardens. Earlier, tea unions used to stand beside the tea workers in case of quarrels with the tea garden management, but in the last 11 years, things have changed with the weakening of tea unions. The ruling party's tea union colludes with the tea garden owners and does not support the tea garden employees in times of their need."

Lakra also alleged that the ownership change of tea gardens is happening in Kolkata, leaving the tea garden employees out of the process. Their dues are overlooked when new management takes charge of the tea gardens. When the Left Front government was in power, tea garden workers were consulted before any ownership change.

Alam said the region faced its worst crisis when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the country's prime minister.

"About 135 tea gardens were closed at that time due to lack of international demand for tea and dumping of Kenyan and East African tea in the country. It was during the time of the 1st UPA government that the tea industry policy was last formulated. In these last 18 years, not one core sector has received its deserving attention from the Central government."

He also alleged that 22 gardens where shady ownership patterns are being observed are enthused by the present Trinamool government. The tea garden workers are in constant uncertainty over the continuance of the tea gardens. Crony capital and the latest state government notification of allowing 15% of garden land for non-agricultural use is enthusing the shady property dealers to come and invest in the real estate of the garden, Alam said.

"According to the Tea Act 1953, a tea garden must remain open for the public interest, and a tea garden's closure is not allowed. But bypassing this clause, about five tea gardens in the Darjeeling terai and Dooars regions are now closed, including Roypur of Jalpaiguri, Panighata of Darjeeling district, Goalguch of north Dinajpur district and Dheklapara of Alipurduar district. In the last five months, workers have thwarted the attempt to grab the tea estate's land by crony capitals in various places of Darjeeling and Dooars. Tea society is in a very vulnerable position."

Alam pointed out that more than 225 bottle leaf factories have come up in the Doaars region, which source tea from the tea gardens and process tea fit for human consumption but now are suffering due to a lack of demand in the tea market.

NewsClick spoke with Jayram Toppo, a member of the ruling party's tea union in the Hunterwala tea garden, about 10 kilometres from Madarihaat town, who complained that the tea garden remained closed for years, and upon its opening last year, no dues of the workers have been paid by the tea garden management.

"The management had done a three-year agreement but is defaulting on it; it is not providing the employees with firewood, medical facilities, drinking water facilities or ration components apart from what is obtained under the National Food Security programme. No new labour intake has been made in place of retirees."

He complained that his union leaders are also keeping stoic silence on these demands of the tea workers. The tea garden has two trade unions- one is associated with Trinamool Congress (TMC), and the other is with Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Still, no one is looking after average tea workers.

Another problem in the garden is that there are no individual electric meters. As a result, even using one electric bulb, one has to pay Rs 300. Though the woman of the area receives the monthly money allotted to women under the Laxmi Bhunder scheme, the rate of workers' wage at Rs 232/day is too low for the tea workers community in the state.

"There are about 1800 permanent workers in the Hunterwala tea estate; 70-80 voucher workers are there as contractual workers. About 150 to 200 workers have already retired from their jobs, but the practice of replacement workers known as Badli (replacement) is not being followed," Toppo said.

CITU leader Pawan Pradhan of Mal area Tea Workers Union alleged that the tea workers movement is facing government and police wrath. There have been cases of arrest when CITU had forged a movement regarding the demand of getting land patta for the tea workers of the region.

"We have been residing here for ages on the tea estate lands, but we still do no