West Bengal State is the second-largest producer of tea in India contributing one-fourth of India’s tea productions. Alipurduar is the most backward District in entire West Bengal as the population who lives here is mostly below the poverty line and they don’t have many options available as their vocation. Geographically, it lies in the north of the Bengal region and shares the international border with Bhutan. It is surrounded by forest & Teagarden estates that become the major source of income for the local population. These tea gardens used to produce good quality tea until a few years back but with growing competition, most of them are closed now. The condition of tea garden workers has become really deplorable and they are now forced to take up odd jobs like work in the agriculture field, construction work or labour work. Again, the lack of basic sanitation facility, water supply and primary healthcare centre makes the situation more vulnerable. However, few are still engaged in tea garden work but they only get paid Rs 140 per day which is still below the minimum wages of agriculture labour, i.e; Rs 206. Still, they used to earn meagre from these odd jobs to feed their family but with the current lock-down situation, they are unable to go out and feed their family at this time.
Sewa International efforts in Alipurduar District are commendable as the volunteers here have reached out to more than 10,000 beneficiaries and benefits were passed on to tea-garden & daily wage workers, migrant labourers and marginalized families. So far, we have distributed more than 1000 Stay@Home kits (that contains dry ration, hygiene kit and other essentials) to tea-garden labours in various gram panchayat Shishujumra and Panchayat of Mathura, Banchugamari, Bholardabri(Vivekanda 1), Damanpur (Vivekanda 2 GP) region to help sustain the current situation. Amid COVID-19, our volunteer soon realized the importance of masks and started producing home-made reusable masks. More than 7800 such masks have been distributed and we have to plan to produce at least 1 lakh masks to cover these village.
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