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By Our Newsmen

Kolkata / Siliguri, 03 February: CHALLENGING Union commerce ministry’s recent notification that authorised the Tea Board to takeover seven tea gardens owned by Duncans Industries in north Bengal, the Kolkata based company today moved the Calcutta High Court.

The matter is likely to be taken up for hearing by the High Court on Thursday.

In its petition, Duncans has challenged the move claiming that the Centre has no right to take over any of its tea gardens as the company has not abandoned them.

In a 28 January notification, the Union commerce ministry had authorised the Tea Board to immediately take over “the management or the control” of the Birpara, Hantapara, Dhumchipara, Garganda Demdima, Lankapara and Tushipara tea estates.

The communique had observed that the (Union) government was of the view that these tea gardens were being managed in a “highly detrimental manner.”

In the midst of these developments, an air of uncertainty is prevailing in the 14 tea gardens owned by the Duncans Industries in north Bengal. The question, who will be the future owner of these tea gardens, is the only discussing doing the rounds among the workers who have been living in dire conditions due to no wage or irregular wage since April last year.

In a tripartite meeting held in Kolkata on 22 January between the Bengal labour minister, the trade unions and the Duncans representatives, the latter had agreed to clear the longstanding dues to the workers by 31 January. The owner it had also assured sending back the managers to the tea gardens, in order to resume work at the gardens.

Now, following the takeover notification of the Union commerce ministry, plan has gone haywire.