Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The cultivation of tea extends from Darjeeling to the Dooars (or strictly the Western Dooars) which is a submontane country, twenty-two miles in width, between the Tista and Sankosh rivers and between Bhutan on the north and Cooch Bihar on the south. The cultivation of tea spread rapidly in the Dooars, and by 1907 most of the available land suitable for tea had already been taken up. About 126, 000 labourers are employed, most of whom are aboriginals from Chota Nagpur and the Santal Parganas in the province of Bihar and Orissa. The significant feature of recruitment for the Dooars has been the absence of any form of agreement or penal contract. Although labour is obtained from a considerable distance, the planters did not desire the application of the almost ubiquitous Workmen's Breach of Contract Act to this area. We believe that it is the absence of penal contracts, as much as any other factor, which has been responsible for the comparative absence here of the serious difficulties which have attended recruiting for the neighbouring province of Assam. At no time has it been necessary for Government to control recruitment for the Dooars, and except for short periods, the planters have been able to secure an adequate supply of labour, most of which is permanently settled on the gardens, only about ten per cent returning annually to their homes. The method of recruitment is mainly the same sardari system as is prescribed for Assam, but is subject to no official control.