Workers protest against the clearing of the Doloo Tea Estate in Cachar district, Assam

Reported by

Sarup Sinha

Legal Data by

Anmol Gupta, Mukta Joshi

Edited by

Radhika Chatterjee

Updated by

Published on

October 24, 2022

October 24, 2022

Updated on

October 24, 2022

Location of Conflict

Lalbagh

Cachar

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Airport

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1900

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

350

ha

Starting Year

2022

State

Assam

Sector

Infrastructure

On May 12, 2022, over a hundred tea garden workers of Doloo tea estate in Lalbagh division of Silchar, the headquarter of Cachar district of Assam, came out to protest against the clearing of the tea estate. If implemented fully, the clearing would result in their eviction from the tea estate and subsequent loss of their only source of livelihood. Doloo tea garden employs approximately 1,900 people, including both regular and non-regular staff. The eviction drive, likely to uproot over 3 milllion plants, is being conducted to clear the land for the construction of a proposed Greenfield airport planned by the Airports Authority of India in consultation with the Assam government.

The state government plans to clear around 1550 acres of Doloo tea estate out of its total area of 9,965 bighas for the airport. Although section 144 had been issued in the area alongside the deployment of heavy security cover, workers quickly gathered at the site when over 100 bulldozers arrived to raze the tea plantations.

The eviction was conducted by the Assam government amidst strong opposition from the labourers of Doloo Tea estate who claim that the eviction contradicts the pre-election assurance from the state government that no policy would be pursued that endangers the interests of the tea estate workers.

An affected worker said, “We cannot accept the airport as it will take away our livelihood. Where will we work if the government destroys the tea plantation and constructs an airport? We don’t have the required skill set or education to work in an airport or any other place. The tea garden is the only place where we can work and earn something. This is why we have been protesting. But the tone-deaf government is not ready to listen,”

The eviction is said to be undertaken after an MoU for acquiring the land for the airport was signed in March 2022 between the authorities of the Doloo Tea Company and three registered trade unions viz Barak Cha Shramik Union, Akhil Bharatiya Cha Mazdoor Sangh and Barak Valley Cha Mazdoor Sangh. The tea workers, however, reject the MoU saying that the MoU was signed without consulting them even though they are the actual stakeholders. They further allege that the MoU was kept a secret until the officials came to demarcate the land on April 19, and it was only after numerous protests that the MoU was made public. In two subsequent public hearings, the workers had explicitly rejected the MoU, but their pleas were ignored as the demolition drive continued according to the planned schedule.

Another bone of contention in the conflict is the non-disbursal of the provident fund (PF) money by the Doloo tea management to its workers. The tea workers claim that they are yet to receive the PF contributions they have been making for the past several years. The company management says that it will clear all pending PF and Gratuity claims upon receiving compensation from the government. The tea garden workers counter by arguing that PF and gratuity are their legal entitlements which the tea garden administration must pay from the tea garden's income rather than from government compensation.

However, the proposed greenfield airport finds no mention in the Union government’s list of 21 approved greenfield airports that was shared in the Lok Sabha on March 17, 2022, by the Ministry of Civil Aviation. In a written response to a query raised in Rajya Sabha, the Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, said that the Union ministry had not received any proposal to build a new greenfield airport in the Cachar region of Assam. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

No items found.

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand to stop the clearing of the tea estate

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common and Private

Type of Common Land

Common and Private

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Airports Authority of India Act, 1994
Section 28A-D [Eviction officer appointed by the Airport Authority can remove unauthorized persons from airport premises after issuing notice to affected parties. Notice must specify the grounds on which the eviction order is sought to be made.] Section 28E [Persons evicted by Eviction Officer to be given 10 days’ notice to vacate the premises]
Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971
Section 4 [The Estate Officer is required to issue notice to person involved in unauthorised occupation of public premises, within seven working days of receiving information about such occupation] Section 5 [Eviction of unauthorised occupants to happen only after notice under Section 4 is issued and after personal hearing. Any order of eviction passed by the estate officer to contain recording of reasons]
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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

No

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Controversial land acquisition by the government

Non-consultation with stakeholders

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

No

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

No

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Assam State Government, Cachar District Administration, Ministry of Civil Aviation

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Doloo Tea Company

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Barak Cha Shramik Union, Akhil Bharatiya Cha Mazdoor Sangh, Barak Valley Cha Mazdoor Sangh, Dolo Tea Estate Save Coordination Committee

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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