Money meant for tea garden workers looted
A SECTION of tea worker leaders in 19 tea gardens under Kulaura Upazila of Moulvibazar has allegedly pocketed lakhs of taka from several thousand unsuspecting poor tea workers. The leaders have been collecting more or less Tk 500 from the workers under the pretence of enlisting the workers' names in a list of 3,735 impoverished tea workers, each of whom is eligible to receive Tk 5,000 financial grant from the government's social services department for 2019-20 fiscal year. The Upazila Administration has initiated an investigation, but we are not certain whether the investigation would identify the responsible nexus and any punishment followed.
Workers of Clevedon Tea Garden said their leaders asked money for enlisting their names into the beneficiary list. The allegation of extortion in different excuse against the tea estate leaders are not new, they practice favouritism and nepotism in preparing the grant recipients' list every year. In some cases, the same person receives the annual grant for more than two times, while the names of many deserving workers had been left out of the list due to this unethical practice. However, the leaders said they collected money to cover for various expenses including transportation to and from the government offices, making duplicates of workers' photographs and photocopies of their ID cards. The workers rejected such expenses as they provide all necessary documents.
The entrapped workers become aware when the Upazila Administration campaign highlighted no fees are required to get the grants. The collection of money in exchange for the grant by the committee members is a clear violation of government regulations. The social services officer in the Upazila has been instructed to investigate the allegations at Clevedon and other tea gardens and take stern lawful action against anyone found involved in financial transactions during the process of enlistment for disbursement of the grant.
When making money through corruption is the system then it is natural to exploit the situation. There is nobody to ensure justice. It is most likely that few wrong persons will be punished. Our appeal is not to harass the weak and innocent ones. The game is corruption and let us see how the game is played out and for how long.