Tea planters in north Bengal have expressed disappointment with the Narendra Modi government at the Centre over pending subsidies in tea gardens.
M.P. Bansal, the chairman of the Terai Indian Planters’ Association (Tipa), sent a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday, saying the Union commerce ministry and the Tea Board of India had not taken any initiative to disburse due subsidies in tea gardens.
“Tea gardens of this region are supposed to receive around Rs 300 crore as subsidies from the Tea Board. However, there has been an unprecedented delay in the disbursal of the subsidies, leaving many gardens in a liquidity crisis. The situation is quite serious. We fail to understand why the central government has meted out the step-motherly treatment to us by continuing with the disproportionate and inadequate funds allocation policy,” said Bansal.
In the tea industry, gardens are entitled to receive subsidies from the Centre in case they carry out certain tasks to improve their gardens. They include the rejuvenation and the replanting of tea bushes, the introduction of mechanisation and the upgrade of factories.
“According to the system, the gardens invest first to carry out the necessary work. Later, an inspection is conducted by the Tea Board on the basis of applications and eventually, the subsidy is disbursed. However, as the subsidies are not being disbursed properly, the gardens are facing a funds crisis as they have already made investments. Subsidies even for applications which were made in 2010 and 2011 are yet to be paid,” said a senior tea planter based in Siliguri.
In his letter, Bansal also said a special package announced for tea gardens following the political agitation in the Darjeeling hills in 2017 was yet to be realised.