Assam tea suffers Rs 500cr loss due to lockdown, says minister

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Guwahati, May 6 () Tea production in Assam hasdeclined by 32 million kg due to the lockdown, resulting in afinancial loss of over Rs 500 crore, state industries ministerChandra Mohan Patowary said on Wednesday.

The tea sector is the "biggest industry" in the state,and production was severely hit as the lockdown coincided withthe beginning of a new season, he said.

"Tea production at 715.49 million kg in Assam in 2019was 51.51 per cent of the total crop output in the country.But due to the lockdown, decline in production is estimated at32 million kg, amounting to a loss of more than Rs 500 crore,"the minister told reporters here.

Following the guidelines, issued by the Centre forresumption of the economic activity during the third phase ofthe lockdown, all the 783 big estates and 1.18 lakh smallgardens have been reopened, he said.
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The state government has allowed 508 units and 296bought-leaf factories to function, while 7.33 lakh workersare being engaged in the big estates and about 3 lakhlabourers started working in the small gardens.

Regular visits are being made by the industriesdepartment officers to ensure that planters and workers followthe COVID-19 guidelines in the industrial units, Patowary, whoalso holds trasport portfolio, said.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has alreadyannounced the waiver of the minimum fixed charge for supplyof natural gas to the tea gardens.
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Auctioning of tea has already resumed in Guwahati andall the tea warehouses have also been opened.

All the 15 gardens and factories of the state-ownedAssam Tea Corporation Ltd (ATCL) have been allowed to functionin full capacity, Patowary said.The state government has also ensured that all 16,720workers and employees of ATCL get full wages and salariesduring the lockdown period, he added. DGBDC BDC
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