| Relief bid |
Agartala, Sept. 12: Tripura’s struggling tea industry has demanded re-introduction of 90 per cent transport subsidy, which the Centre had withdrawn long back, to gain viability.
Industry delegates, who met Tea Board deputy chairman Neelam Meena yesterday, told him that the tea industry was facing rising transportation cost which needed to be subsidised by the board as before. The delegation was led by Tea Association of India (TAI) chairman Anjan Kumar Das.
The delegates told Meena that the cost was two-pronged — importing inputs for the industry entails transportation cost as does the despatch of tea to auction centres in Guwahati and Calcutta — while focussing on the fragile tea economy in Tripura.
The delegates submitted a memorandum, urging the board to reconsider reintroduction of transport subsidy for the tea industry in view of the financial constraints it was facing in Tripura and the Northeast at large.
In a detailed discussion with Meena at the Tea Board’s regional office in Indranagar here, the delegates pointed out that the tea industry in Tripura was suffering from an identity crisis as a logo sent by TAI for approval to the Tea Board’s office in Calcutta was yet to be cleared.
They said without a proper logo, the Tripura tea industry would be perennially in crisis of identity. They urged Meena to clear the matter as early as possible.
The delegation also urged the Tea Board to arrange an interactive session involving industry, buyers and exporters for “better recognition of Tripura tea”.
The Tripura tea industry comprised 56 functional tea gardens and a workforce of 14,000.
Speaking on what transpired in the discussion with Meena, the secretary of TAI’s Tripura unit, P.K. Sarkar, told this correspondent today that they also sought amendment of land laws in Tripura for better use of land.
“The tea industry here may become viable if the surplus lands of the garden are allowed to be utilised for cultivation of bamboo and medicinal plants which will yield alternative income for the gardens,” Sarkar said.
“Besides, the shortage faced by the tea industry in supplies of fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides may be partially resolved if these are made available by the state government at subsidised rates,” Sarkar added.
He also pointed out that a difference of opinion exists between the Centre and states over expansion of tea plantation.
The state government has been putting pressure on the industry here to go for expansion.