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Planters raise pitch for subsidy

Jorhat, Sept. 15: The Assam Tea Planters’ Association has appealed to the state government to take up with New Delhi the matter of disbursing arrears due to the industry under the central interest subsidy on working capital scheme, 1997.

In a letter to Assam minister for commerce and industry, Pradyut Bordoloi, the association’s chairman, Raj Baruah, said the CISWC scheme announced in 1997 under the North East Industrial Policy provided subsidy on working capital to all the industries in the Northeast. However, the Centre had not disbursed funds under the scheme for the last three years.

The association’s 30-odd member gardens alone are to receive Rs 6.5 crore. As a whole, the tea industry in the Northeast has to get back several crores of rupees from the Centre under the scheme.

Baruah said the development has added to the crisis in the tea industry.

which is already reeling under severe constraints,” Baruah told newspersons. He said such long periods of delay in disbursement of subsidy defeated the very essence of these central policies framed for the development of the region.

Baruah said in his letter that beneficiaries who have approached the North East Development Finance Corporation (NEDFi), the Centre’s nodal agency for implementation of the scheme, have been told for the past three years that funds were not available.

He claimed that only the northeastern states were being deprived of the subsidy funds. States like Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Daman and Diu were receiving the benefits under the scheme regularly, even though exemption to these states had been announced later.

Welcoming Bordoloi’s initiative to seek extension of the North East Industrial Policy, Baruah said the state government should also exert pressure on the Centre to release the arrears due to the beneficiaries under the scheme.

The decision to seek extension of the policy, which expires on March 31 next year, was taken at a meeting of the ministers of commerce and industry of all northeastern states in Guwahati recently.

Sources in the association said the Centre had plugged the subsidy for the region saying that there had been complaints of funds misuse in states like Nagaland.

“Why should all the industries in the region suffer for the mistake of one or two'” asked former chairman of the association, Prabhat Bezboruah.

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