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Darjeeling shutdown enters ninth day:Mamata issues GJM 72-hour ultimatum Last Updated : 11 Aug 2013 11:11:45 AM IST Darjeeling shutdown enters ninth day:Tea industry in trouble,Mamata gives GJM 72-hour ultimatum
The indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) which entered the ninth day on Sunday in the hills has sparked fears of the Darjeeling tea industry facing a complete shutdown.
The strike would affect the entire post-second flush which takes place during August amounting to 7.35 lakh kilogram.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to withdraw its indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling hills, failing which the government will be “compelled to take strong action”.
“I give them 72 hours to withdraw their shutdown. We have tolerated for eight days enough is enough. I cannot tolerate the whole state suffering forthe political interests of a few,” Banerjee told media persons here.
“If they do not withdraw the shutdown, then as per the court’s order we will be compelled to take strong action… when required we have to take strong medicines,” said Banerjee citing a Calcutta High Court directive asking the state government to ensure there was no forcible shutdown
"The bandh is going on and it is becoming extremely difficult for us for sustaining operations," chairman of Darjeeling Tea Association, S S Bagaria told.
He said that although the tea industry has been exempted from the shut down, movement of tea and inputs from and to the factory has stopped completely.
Bagaria said that the 87-odd gardens located in the hills are unable to transport the tea from the factory and the produce has to be stored on the factory premises.
"There is a capacity limit of the factories to store their produce. If this continues for another three to four days, plucking will have to be completely stopped," Bagaria said.
The bandh has also stopped entry of inputs like coal and fuel to the factories as no trucks were able to run in the hills, Bagaria said.
"Since the entire crop is exported, it will create uncertainty among exporters and importing countries," he said.Chairman of Andrew Yule & Company Kallol Datta added that supply of ration to the workers is also getting hit.
"Owing to the strike, no ration can be transported to the gardens and factories," Datta said. "We will have to stop all activity if the strike continues for a few more days," he said.
The Indian Tea Association, the apex body of tea planters, has called an emergency meeting on Tuesday to evaluate the situation in the hills.
"We have called for a meeting of the members having interests in Darjeeling for a review of the situation," ITA secretary-general Manojit Dasgupta said.
He said that ITA would talk to local transport operators to ascertain whether they were willing to transport tea with police protection.
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