Violation of lockdown: Tea estate in Panchthar deploys workers to harvest tea

PANCHTHAR: In breach of the nationwide lockdown imposed by government to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a tea estate has deployed its workers for plucking tea leaves at Yangbarak and Falelung Rural Municipalities in Panchthar district.

The tea estate has given continuity to tea plucking by mobilising around 50 workers. Locals said that people from different age groups were involved in harvesting the tea. “Even school children are used for the task as schools are closed down,” said a local adding that the children are working for wage.

It has been learnt that proprietors operating the tea estate are themselves divided over plucking of the tea leaves amid coronavirus threat. One of the proprietors said, “We live in the district headquarters. I have come to hear that tea leaves are being plucked. It is good not to harvest the tea during lockdown.”

Another board member said that the chairperson had forcefully started plucking the tea despite the fact that most of the shareholders and board members had disagreed. The chairperson admitted to local people being mobilised to pluck tea leaves. He said that workers were deployed in harvesting the tea as not doing so would affect tea production throughout the year.

A meeting of the Province-1 government held yesterday had directed to local levels to set criteria for production and harvesting of agricultural produces. The decision has mandated local levels to set the standards. But the local governments has yet to set the criteria for plucking tea leaves.

Panchthar CDO Arjun Kumar Sharma said that he would coordinate with the local levels to facilitate tea plucking only after setting the criteria.

(Reported by Laxmi Gautam)