Siliguri, Feb. 28: The Union budget brought cheers to small-scale tea growers today as P. Chidambaram announced Rs 5 crore for their development and set aside Rs 6.27 crore for the price stabilisation fund trust.
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.
“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 tea leaves at prices below the cost of production,” he said.
Under the Price Stabilisation Fund instituted by the Union ministry of commerce and industry, tea growers with less than 10 hectares of land are entitled to receive assistance ranging from Rs 12,000-60,000 a year in case they have earned less compared to international tea prices.
The scheme is for a five-year 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.
Chidambaram has increased the allotment for domestic campaign for tourism from Rs 60.18 crore to Rs 108.20 crore and from Rs 180 crore to Rs 350 crore for the overseas campaign. Further, he also kept aside a fund of Rs 235.80 crore for training those who work at the grassroots level in the industry.
“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 Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator.
The finance minister also announced a scheme to encourage municipalities to take up waste-to-energy projects on PPP model. Siliguri mayor said the civic body would submit a project report to the Centre.