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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

Bengal government identifies land to set up dedicated tea hub in port area of Calcutta

Inspired by Dubai’s DMCC Tea Centre, which is a major blending, packaging and tea export hub in West Asia, the Calcutta facility will have a common testing unit and a packaging and blending facility for the smaller tea producers

Our Special Correspondent Calcutta Published 03.01.24, 11:31 AM
SMP chairman Rathendra Raman (left) and N.G. Khaitan, president of Bharat Chamber of Commerce, in Calcutta on Tuesday.

SMP chairman Rathendra Raman (left) and N.G. Khaitan, president of Bharat Chamber of Commerce, in Calcutta on Tuesday. Sourced by the Telegraph

The Bengal government has identified a plot of land in the port area of Calcutta to set up a dedicated tea hub to promote value addition of tea for the domestic and the export markets.

Inspired by Dubai’s DMCC Tea Centre, which is a major blending, packaging and tea export hub in West Asia, the Calcutta facility will have a common testing unit and a packaging and blending facility for the smaller tea producers.

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Plots will also be made available within the tea park, spread over 20 acres, for bigger players to set up their own units.

“We received a communication from the state government that it wants to set up a tea park about two months back. Thereafter, we identified three plots which state officials have visited,” said Rathendra Raman, chairman of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Calcutta.

The port will lease out the plot to the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC), which will make the initial investment to set up the facilities. The project, which has been on the drawing board for long, gained momentum when chief minister Mamata Banerjee visited Dubai in the second half of 2023 to scout for investment.

The feedback received from the tea industry led the WBIDC to approach the port to set up the park. The port area will allow setting up customs bonded warehouses in the zone, which will ensure tea consignments are not opened multiple times for checking. In the process, tea will not lose its freshness and will retain quality.

“If Dubai, which does not produce a single leaf of tea, can do it, Bengal certainly can do as well,” said a state official aware of the process.

Not only Dubai, Indian states such as Assam and Odisha are attracting investment in integrated tea blending and packaging units. While some of the finest teas are produced in Bengal, there has been a lack of focus on value addition which comes from blending, packaging, tea bags or bottled ready-to-drink tea.

Smaller players, who are unable to set up their own units for packaging and blending, can rent the state-built facility. The government will also set up high-end labs which can test phytosanitary standards demanded by importing countries.

Exclusive Eco Zone

Raman, who was interacting with the members of the Bharat Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, said the port has identified two plots of land for exclusive economic zones for industry. “There is demand from industry. We have located a 25-acre plot in Calcutta and a 125-acre plot in Haldia,” the chairman said, adding similar facilities have been developed by the JNPA in Maharashtra.

The EEZ will ensure dedicated cargo for the port which has spotted 12 projects — six each in Calcutta and Haldia — to add 30 million tonnes additional capacity by 2030 compared with 16 mt added in the last eight years.

Raman expressed hope SMP would end the year with 68 mt cargo handling, up 5 per cent from FY23.

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