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Monday, July 12, 1999 Published at 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK

World: South Asia

Darjeeling tea plantations hit by strike

Production of tea in the key Indian producing region of Darjeeling is being disrupted by a strike of more than a-quarter-of-a-million plantation workers, which began today.

They are demanding a boost in the number of workers employed per hectare in the tea gardens, and improvements in drinking water facilities, living quarters and hospital provision.

But the plantation owners in Darjeeling and other tea areas of West Bengal say meeting such demands in full will hit profit margins hard and have called on the left-wing state government to intervene. The tea growers say output has already been affected by drought, but was recovering with the recent rains as interest from buyers also picked up.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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