| P. Chidambaram |
Siliguri, Feb. 28: The Union budget has brought cheers to the small scale tea growers as P. Chidambaram announced Rs 5 core for the their development and set aside Rs 6.27 crore for the Price Stabilisation Fund Trust, which will be used to help the farmers financially when the commodity’s rate goes down. Union finance minister P. Chidambaram today brought cheers for small tea growers of the country and north Bengal as he allocated separate funds for development of the small tea sector and also for Price Stabilization Fund to help them in years of distress.
Chidambaram, however, remained silent on the big estates of tea industry, which added to the disappointment of tea estate owners and other stakeholders of the industry.
At the Union budget placed in the Parliament today, Chidambaram allotted a sum of Rs 5 crores for small growers’ development and another sum of Rs 6.27 for the Price Stabilization Fund Trust (PSFT), which has been formed under the Union ministry of commerce & industry.
Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Associations, said it was good to know that the Centre had realised the need to lay emphasis on the small tea sector which contributed to 30 per cent of the total production in the country. is emerging across the country and produces over 30 per cent of the total Indian tea,” Bijoygopal Chakraborty, the president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers’ Associations (Cista), said today.
“We welcome the Union finance minister’s announcements and hope the price stabilisation fund would be of immense help for our members during years of distress when they have to sell green tealeaves at prices below the cost of production,” he said.
Under the Price Stabilisation Fund instituted by the Union ministry of commerce and industry, under the scheme of price stabilization floated by the Centre, small tea growers with less than 10 hectares of land are entitled to receive assistance ranging from Rs 12,000 to Rs 60,000 a year in case they have earned less compared to the international tea price.
The scheme is for a fiveyear period and any farmer can become its member by paying just Rs 500. Tea industry sources said the farmers would have to pay Rs 1,000 for any year when the domestic tea price is higher than the international rate.
The tourism sector has also welcomed the budget.
Along with the tea industry, allocations made by Chidambaram for tourism industry has prompted stakeholders in north Bengal to appreciate the Union finance minister. In the 201314 budget, he has increased the allotment for domestic campaign for tourism from Rs 60.18 crore to Rs. 108. 20 crore and while for overseas campaign, the allocations have increased from Rs 180 crore to Rs 350 crore for the overseas campaign. Further, he also the finance minister has kept aside a fund of Rs 235.80 crore for training those who work at the grassroots level in the industry. purposes in the tourism sector. The allotment was Rs 138.80 crores in 201213.
“Marketing and human resource development are key to the growth of the tourism. The funds allotted for tourism campaigns and training will boost the sector. We hope the campaigns will pull more people to the tourist destinations,” said it is good to hear that the Union government is putting thrust on tourism campaigns, both within the country and in overseas to pull in more tourists at the destinations spread across India. Two key ingredients, which are required for development of tourism, are human resource development and marketing of products. The funds allocated for these purposes would largely help the Indian tourism industry, including north Bengal,” Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator. who represents ing an eastern India based touring company, said.
“Along with development of new destinations, consistent campaign and skill enhancement of people working in the industry is required.”
Some other announcements which have been welcomed by people from different walks of life in north Bengal include Chidambaram’s announcement to form an independent regulatory authority to resolve challenges faced by the road construction sector.
“If we go by the announcement of the finance minister, it seems that the proposed authority would work dedicatedly to remove bottlenecks hindering road projects. In north Bengal, we have the pending fourlane project, which is suffering due to land and other problems and hope that the authority will take up this case along with similar issues that pertain to other parts of the country and facilitate commencement of the fourlaning work between Siliguri and Salsalabari on the BengalAssam border,” Santanu Choudhury, a financial advisor based in Siliguri, said.