Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday held a meeting with various tea industry stakeholders and discussed the challenges and road ahead for the tea gardens under Assam Tea Corporation (ATC).
The meeting was held in the state capital complex Janata Bhawan.
During the meeting, ways to revamp the tea gardens under Assam Tea Corporation were discussed.
“The meeting also observed that in the wake of difficulties of managing the tea gardens, ATC may lease out some of the tea gardens with retaining their ownership,” a statement by Chief Minister’s Office said.
As quoted in the statement, the Chief Minister said that if the companies that take the management of the tea gardens fail to disburse the dues and other entitlements of the tea workers, the Corporation will have the right to take over the management of the tea gardens.
For leasing out the tea gardens and safeguarding the pay structure and other entitlements of the tea workers, the government will constitute a three-member committee each for Barak and Brahmaputra valleys.
It is noteworthy to mention tea industry has been struggling with issues such as rising production costs, relatively stagnant consumption, subdued prices and crop losses due to climate change. It also has to face the challenge of a competitive global market.
Assam produces nearly 700 million kg of tea annually and accounts for around half of India’s overall tea production. The state also generates foreign exchange earnings estimated at an equivalent to Rs 3,000 crore.
The tea business is cost-intensive, where a sizable investment is fixed cost. Assam, recently raised daily wages for tea garden workers by Rs 27, over and above other benefits, to which they are entitled.
Post the revision, tea workers in Assam’s Barak valley will get Rs 210 per day and for that of Brahmaputra valley Rs 232. Just ahead of State elections in 2021 too, the BJP government in Assam had hiked the wage rate by Rs 38.