Amid lockdown, tea industry seeks 50 pc workforce in Bengal gardens

Amid lockdown, tea industry seeks 50 pc workforce in Bengal gardens
Kolkata, Apr 12 () A day after West Bengal ChiefMinister Mamata Banerjee increased the limit of the workforcein tea gardens from 15 to 25 per cent amid the nationwidelockdown, the tea industry on Sunday urged the stategovernment to gradually allow up to 50 per cent of thelabourers in the plantations.

The chief minister had first allowed the deployment ofonly 15 per cent of the workforce in the tea gardens, whichshe increased to 25 per cent on Saturday.


Welcoming the move, Arijit Raha, secretary general ofthe Indian Tea Association (ITA) told , "The ConsultativeCommittee on Plantation Associations (CCPA) made arepresentation to the government seeking to allow flexibilityin operations within prescribed limits. The increaseddeployment will help in plucking and ancillary activities."

ITA is a constituent of the CCPA.

"We are hopeful that the state government willconsider the enhancement of workforce to 50 per cent," hesaid.

Rudra Chatterjee, director of Luxmi Group, which ownsthe Makaibari brand, welcomed the move saying it will helpthem get a portion of the first flush.


"We will get the entire second flush, the season forwhich will start from May. The second flush will be protected.Makaibari had fetched the highest price in the history ofDarjeeling second flush at USD 1850 per kg," he said.

Chamong Tea Chairman A Lohia said after the governmentdecided to allow more workforce in the tea gardens, the grouphas begun plucking in all of its 13 gardens in Darjeeling byfollowing guidelines laid down by the administration.

"The tea gardens of Darjeeling have almost lost thefirst flush due to the lockdown. The state government shouldincrease the percentage of the labour force so that moreleaves can be plucked," he said.

The tea gardens of Darjeeling produce almost eightmillion kg of orthodox tea and the first flush roughlyconstitutes 20 per cent of the total yield.

Tea Board Deputy Chairman Arun Kumar Ray saiddepending on the situation, the restrictions will hopefully befurther relaxed.

"Our first fight is against coronavirus," he said,adding that the state government has asked the authorities ofthe tea gardens to maintain social distancing and takeprecautionary measures. DCACD ACD

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