M.G.V.K Bhanu in Calcutta on Monday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, July 2: Stakeholders in tea are planning to form groups to vet the quality of exports, which have fallen in the January-March period.
Two such groups — called councils, with one for North India and another for the South — is being set up by the Tea Board.
The councils will be formed in the next three to six months and include exporters, producers, traders, warehouse owners and representatives of the Tea Board.
“This council will inspect every export consignment and tea warehousing facilities and standards prescribed by law. Members will also be registered,” said M.G.V.K. Bhanu, chairman of the Tea Board, on the sidelines of the 117th annual general meeting of the Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA).
“This would also be the first of its kind representative body for tea exporters,” said Roshni Sen, deputy chairman, Tea Board.
Meanwhile, an additional 6 lakh square feet of warehouse space will be added near the Calcutta port over the next six months to the existing 17 lakh square feet. The board has held discussions with the Calcutta Port Trust to utilise their unused warehouse spaces.
“The port has communicated to me in writing that they will give it and this will be run in the public-private partnership mode. We will then ask them to maintain and confirm to standards. Meanwhile, we are issuing notices to them,” Bhanu said.
Tea exports came down 4.36 per cent to 43.8 million kg during January-March 2012, with north India contributing 29.4 million kg and the south, 14.4 million kg. Exports stood at 45.8 million kg in the same period last year, with the north exporting 28.3 million kg and the south, 17.4 million kg.
Meanwhile, the Tea Board has appointed the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, to carry out toxicological studies to assess the presence of iron filings.
“Tea dealers in many states have had stocks of tea seized by health authorities and a few dealers have undergone imprisonment. The board has also commissioned a study by independent agencies on warehouse charges in Calcutta, Guwahati and Siliguri,” said Sangeeta Kichlu, outgoing chairman of the CTTA.
Warehouse keepers have often complained that the charges fixed by the CTTA are not remunerative and discourage them to offer space.
L.N. Gupta, vice-chairman of the CTTA and managing director of Gupta Tea, has taken over as chairman, the CTTA. Tapan Kumar Chowdhury of Luxmi Tea is now the vice-chairman.