The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Global tea meet in Guwahati, finally

Guwahati, March 9: Bowing to pressure, Delhi today announced that the international tea convention, so long embroiled in controversy, would finally be held in Guwahati.

Making the announcement here, Union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi had personally given him an assurance that problems of accommodation and security issues would be dealt with.

The Centre had initially promised to hold the convention in Guwahati, but later decided on Calcutta, citing poor hotel facilities in the Assam capital as the reason.

State commerce and industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi had, however, fought back against the Centre’s decision and even engaged in a verbal duel over the issue when Ramesh visited the state last month.

“The issue should be closed now,” said Ramesh, who was accompanied by a high-level delegation of the commerce ministry to the third sectoral summit of the North Eastern Council (NEC) here.

Asked about the sudden turnaround on the venue chosen for the convention, Ramesh said all this was because of Gogoi’s assurance. He did concede that the decision might annoy the tea barons in Calcutta.

Ramesh had earlier said his first choice was always Guwahati as there was great demand for Assam tea all over the world. However, he had left it to the tea industry to decide. Nevertheless, he had promised he would still try his best to bring the event to Guwahati.

Bordoloi, who also attended the news conference along with Ramesh, later said he was very happy with the development. “We are happy that we are finally hosting the convention. And why not' After all, Assam is the largest tea producing state in the country,” he said.

Bordoloi added that no stone would be left unturned to make the event a grand success. “We will ensure that the participants get a taste of the best Assamese hospitality, something they will cherish for a long time,” he promised.

Bordoloi also clarified that he had no differences with Ramesh. “These things happen at times, but are temporary,” he said.

The international tea convention is scheduled to be held in Guwahati in November. At least 400 people from the tea industry will participate in it.

Earlier, addressing the sectoral summit, Gogoi said Dispur is giving importance to small tea growers and it has promised to provide them land possession certificates.

The third sectoral summit, which concludes on Sunday, will focus on inland waterways and floods. DoNER minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and Assam Governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh were present at the inaugural session.

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