Darjeeling: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha`s trade union has started a fund collection drive amounting to a day`s wage from tea garden workers across the Darjeeling hills for the Gorkhaland agitation.
The drive, launched yesterday, is estimated to raise around Rs 60 lakh, GJM sources said.
The hills have 87 tea gardens and they together employ 65,000 workers, most of whom are members of the Morcha-affiliated Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union. The daily wage of a worker is Rs 90.
Bimal Gurung, the president of the Morcha, was today handed over 1,400kg of rice and Rs 50,000 collected by the outfit`s Darjeeling Sadar-1 constituency unit.
Addressing the function, Gurung said, "We are grateful to everyone as our people are voluntarily contributing both in cash and kind. I have been told that tea garden workers will also be donating a day`s wage and that our trade union has already passed a resolution to help in the collection."
Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, said the workers were voluntarily contributing wages.
"Workers are voluntarily coming and donating their wages to our local units. There is no call for a fund collection. Our union is just co-ordinating the collection," he said.
This is the first time that the Morcha is collecting funds from the people. The GNLF in 1986 had collected similar funds from people during its Gorkhaland agitation days.
Sources said apart from the Darjeeling Sadar-I unit of the Morcha, other constituents were also expected to collect funds and rice from the common people. Students are also collecting donations for the statehood agitation.