Assam government has allowed up to five per cent of the total land of tea gardens to be used for the promotion of eco-friendly tea tourism, cultivation of agricultural crops green power and animal husbandry.
In an ordinance, the state government amended the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Landholding Act 1956.
According to the ordinance “Provided that in cases where tea plantation is not possible in land allowed to be retained by the tea gardens and lying as fallow and unutilized, such land and hereditaments or any part thereof may be used for the following purposes, promotion of eco-friendly tea tourism; cultivation of agricultural crops which include cash crops, horticultural crops, floriculture, medicinal plants, agarwood, sandalwood and bamboo; animal husbandry and fisheries; green power and non-conventional energy resources; social infrastructure and services which include wellness centres, schools, colleges, universities, medical, nursing, paramedical institutions, cultural and recreational exhibition centres and government offices that could be set up by Tea Garden Authority or a government entity, food processing, blending and packaging units.”
It further stated, “Provided further that lands meant for the aforementioned purposes shall not exceed 5% of the total garden area.”
“It was our long pending appeal. We welcome this move by the State Government. It will help in the better economic viability of tea gardens.”, said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Adviser, North Eastern NSE 0.60 % Tea Association (NETA).
Assam has more than 10 lakh tea workers in the organized sector, working in about 850 big estates. The state produces roughly 55% of India’s tea.