News Wrap


The original petition claiming non-payment of wagers to tea garden workers was filed in 2006 by the Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS) and others, at the Supreme Court of India. In 2010 the apex court ordered the state governments to pay the workers. When this was not followed through, the petitioners filed a contempt petition in 2012. On 04 April 2018, the Supreme Court ordered four states of Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, to ensure that payment is made to workers in their tea gardens. The Union Government of India had then submitted that Assam owed its workers Rs 24.9 crore, Kerala Rs 27 crore, Tamil Nadu Rs 70 crore and West Bengal Rs 30 crore. The Supreme Court then directed the four state governments to pay half the outstanding dues by way of interim relief, within 60 days to the workers. There are 28 tea gardens in West Bengal, for which the state government will be making a payment of Rs 15 crore to 35,000 tea garden workers. This is an interim relief that the state government will undertake, and payment will be made directly in the accounts of the workers. The Supreme Court order also included tea garden workers who have retired, as well as those who have died, and who had not been paid dues for work they rendered. Hundreds of workers had died of starvation during this period. The payments differ from garden to garden. For some gardens, dues start from 1996. Some gardens have shut down, and others were abandoned by the management. There are some gardens which are still running, but where salaries have not been paid. "Rogue employers" had unpaid dues totalling Rs 135 crore in tea gardens of West Bengal.

Maoist strike
The Maoists carried out a land mine blast on 20 May 2018, when a joint team of the Chattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) and the District Force (DF) was patrolling the Cholnar-Kirandul road, in Chattisgarh's Dantewada district, seven police personnel were killed after Maoists blew up their vehicle. The security forces were providing security to trucks carrying construction material for road works, between Kiranwal and Palnar villages. The police vehicle was tossed into a roadside ditch near a culvert, by the intensity of the blast. The Naxals looted six automatic weapons, viz two AK47s and a many INSAS and self-loading rifles, of the deceased personnel. Police sources believe that the attack was in retaliation to the recent encounters in Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), Malkangiri (Odhisa) and Bijapur (Chattisgarh), where Maoists suffered major casualties.

China's mining activities
On China's border with Arunachal Pradesh there is a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals, valued at about $60 billion. China has begun large scale mining operations in Lhunze country, adjacent to the Indian border. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of Southern Tibet. The rapidly building infrastructure fortifies China's move to lay claim on South Tibet. The mining operations are part of China's move to take over Arunachal Pradesh. Although mining has been going on in the world's highest mountain range for thousands of years, geologists as well as strategic experts are faced with the challenge of accessing the remote terrain. Concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of such activities. Unprecedented heavy investment by the Chinese government to build roads and other infrastructure in the area has made travel easy. The scale of mining activity in Lhunze has surpassed that of all other areas in Tibet, by end 2017. People are pouring in to the area, at a fast rate. Enormous deep tunnels have been dug into the mountains, along the military confrontation line with India, allowing thousands of tons of ore to be loaded and transported out by trucks daily, along roads built through every village. Extensive power lines and communications networks have been established. Construction is in progress on an airport, that can handle passenger jets. More than 80% of Lhunze county's government tax revenue comes from mining. A series of discoveries in recent years has put the potential value of ore under Lhunze and the nearby area at 370 billion Yuan ($58 billion), which is just a preliminary estimate. As Chinese researchers learn more about the area, there could be more big discoveries. New mining activities would lead to a rapid and significant increase in the Chinese population in the Himalayas.

Left Parties in Nepal
Nepal's ruling CPN-UML and CPN- Maoist Centre formally merged to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) on 17 May 2018. The NCP is now Nepal's largest Left party. Eight months ago it was formed, after they initially agreed on the infliction. Former Prime Minister Prachanda, leader of CPN-Maoist Centre said that the new party formed after the unification of the two parties will work of stability, development and prosperity of the people. The merger announcement was made by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli of CPN-UML and former Prime Minister Prachanda. A nine-member central secretariat and a 45-member standing committee have been formed to steer the party. All properties registered in the name of the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre will be transferred to the new party.

Vol. 51, No.7, Aug 19 - 25, 2018