Siliguri, Jan. 7: Representatives of the Tea Association of India (TAI) have demanded the constitution of a tea committee for the industry in north Bengal.
Vijay Dhandhania, the senior vice-president of TAI, while speaking at the annual general meeting of the north Bengal branch of TAI on Saturday, said: “Our association has suggested to the chief minister to constitute a tea committee for north Bengal under the state commerce and industry.”
He said: “The committee, we have suggested, should comprise representatives from the state government, Tea Board of India and tea producers. It will help in the periodic review of the problems and prospects of the industry in Bengal.”
According to stakeholders of the industry, no such forum exists at the state level.
“It is always advisable to form such a body which can act promptly during hours of crisis. Right now, the mechanism is inter-departmental where officials and ministers from different departments need to be consulted. It delays the decision-making process,” a tea industry source said.
“In north Bengal, the tea industry is not entitled to benefits like capital subsidy, transport subsidy and other assistance provided to gardens in Assam and Tripura by the central government. This increases the expenditure. On the other hand, the prices of teas are higher in Assam than in the Terai and Dooars. Altogether, we have found that gardens in the foothills of north Bengal are losing around Rs 40 to Rs 45 per kilo of tea,” the senior vice-president of TAI said.