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Special funds for tea revamp
- Centre and Tea Board mull steps for replantation

Darjeeling, Oct 16: The Centre is looking to set up a Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) for replanting and rejuvenation of old tea bushes over a targeted area of about 2.12 lakh hectares here.

The Centre’s move comes in the wake of problems being faced by the tea planters here in uprooting and replanting tea bushes, nearly 150 years old. Though replantation is the need of the hour, the high cost involved in the process is a major hurdle.

The Union ministry of commerce and industry has assured that the issue is high on the agenda of both the Centre and the Tea Board.

“To ensure that resource constraints do not come in the way of large scale development activity, the government is considering a proposal for setting up a special purpose tea fund,” reads the letter written by Aditi Das Rout, director, plantations, ministry of commerce and industry, to All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu).

The letter has been faxed to the apolitical students’ body in reply to queries made on the issue of compulsory replantation and the subsidy or loan to be provided for the same. The ministry has maintained that the demand is being considered and certain proposals are being discussed.

“Upgrading the Darjeeling Tea Research and Development Centre as a Centre of Excellence is being considered to take care of emerging research and development needs. This would bring about desired technological vitalisation, besides generating new practices for improved crop husbandary and quality manufacturing principles,” Rout has written.

The letter also states “it is understood from the Tea Board that the Indian Institute of Plantation Management, Bangalore, is in the process of setting up a unit in Darjeeling,” apart from enlisting vocational training institutes for workers to enhance their skill.

The government, however, feels that a minimum floor price for Darjeeling tea is not desirable.

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