KOLKATA: A PIL claiming starvation deaths of workers and their families of closed tea gardens in Jalpaiguri district and seeking free food and medical aid for them was moved before the Calcutta High Court today.
Claiming that 29 tea garden workers or their family members died due to starvation and malnutrition in the past one year, petitioner Bishu Das stated that six persons, including two infants, died recently at Raipur Tea Garden in the district in the Dooars area of North Bengal.
The matter was mentioned before a division bench comprising Justice Asim Kumar Banerjee and Justice Tapash Mookherjee, which asked the petitioner to wait till Monday for fixing a date for hearing of the petition.
The petitioner's lawyers Rabishankar Chatterjee and Udayshankar Chatterjee claimed that 50 per cent workers of the 25 closed tea gardens were suffering from malnutrition.
They stated that India was a welfare state and there were several schemes like Antyodaya Anna Yojana, BPL and that the Food Security Bill was also passed in the Parliament for the benefit of poor people.
There was also the ICDS scheme for child welfare, they said.
The counsels claimed that despite all these welfare schemes for the poor people of the country, they were dying of starvation and malnutrition.
They prayed for a direction to the West Bengal government that free food and medicine be provided to the suffering people.
It was also prayed in the petition for an interim order that the government provide 7 kg rice, 3 kg potatoes every week and free medical aid to each family in the closed tea gardens.