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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A tale of tea workers

Rahad Abir - May 12, 2009

On the inaugural day of the ten-day festival of documentary films on environment and people, the organisers screened ‘The Story of Tea Workers’, jointly directed by Philip Gain and Ronald Halder in the evening of Sunday at Drik Gallery in Dhanmondi.

The festival is organised by the non-government organisation called Society for Environment and Human Development (SHED). The 45-minute documentary film on the workers of tea gardens shows the plight and pleasure of their life in different gardens across the country. The directors also uphold the history of the gardens, tea business and they have also compared the condition of the tea workers of the country with that of its neighbours.

According to the film, there are 163 tea gardens in Bangladesh including seven in Panchagarh. It is said that there are over five lakh people belonging to the community of tea workers. Among them about one lakh and 18 thousand tea workers are involved in the gardens directly.

The film reveals the untold stories of the tea workers to the viewers. For example, according to the film, a tea worker in Bangladesh got Tk 32.50 as as the maximum daily cash payment in 2008 but the tea workers in the gardens in West Bengal in India are paid the equivalent of Tk 53 and the amount will increase to Tk 63 by 2011.

The film portrays that the tea workers suffer acute accommodation crisis. All members of a family live in a small room. Festival mood of the workers especially during Durga Puja is also depicted in the film.

Today, the organisers will screen two documentaries: ‘Riders to the Sundarbans’, directed by Tanvir Mokammel and ‘Chokoria Sundarban: A Forest without Tress’ Junaid Halim at 6:00pm at the gallery.


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