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18 Aug 2014

India: Starvation deaths highlights tea workers' conditions at closed tea plantations in West Bengal

Reports indicate that nearly 100 workers have died due to starvation on closed tea plantations in West Bengal. Extreme poverty—fueled by cripplingly low wages and social isolation—has led to rampant malnutrition and anemia, often culminating in preventable deaths. Representatives of trade unions and activists under the Right to Food Campaign, who visited five abandoned and closed tea gardens in north Bengal have urged the State government to ensure minimum living wages to the tea garden workers. National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports. Reportedly, the West Bengal Government has declined to acknowledge that these deaths occurred due to starvation. It has even declined to recognise that there was any malnutrition death.