Darjeeling tea planters worried over govts’ tourism policy
A section of tea planters in the Darjeeling hills has complained that central and state governments are pushing in new agendas that concern the sector without consulting with the producers of the brew.
“We are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea over the efforts by both the Trinamul Congress government in Bengal and the BJP-led Centre for the tea industry. We can neither protest nor support the efforts. We feel it is important for the governments to consult with the tea industry before deciding on something,” a senior Darjeeling Tea planter said on the condition of anonymity.
Under the tea tourism and allied business policy, 2019, the Bengal government allows tea garden lessees to utilise 15 per cent of the total estate land subject to a maximum of 150 acres for tourism and allied business activities.
“Many tea garden lessees are trying to come up with huge resorts which are threatening to change the business profile of estates from production of the brew to the hotel industry,” said a planter.
A section in the tea industry believes that even if resorts are allowed to develop in gardens, the properties “should complement and not threaten the tea industry”.
Bengal has over 300 tea gardens, all of which are in the north of the state.
Recently, a 28-member parliamentary standing committee on commerce had placed a report in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, recommending land rights for tea garden dwellers.
A tea planter said: “We cannot oppose policies decided by the government but efforts should be made to ensure that the Darjeeling tea industry is also protected.”