NEW DELHI, July 28 - In a significant move, Prof Saugata Roy, Lok Sabha MP from West Bengal, has protested the alleged bid to shift the headquarters of the Tea Board from Kolkata to Assam.
Moving a notice during the Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Prof Roy said it seems that there is a conspiracy to shift the head office of the Tea Board from Kolkata to some place in Assam.
As none of the MPs from Assam objected, the Dum Dum Lok Sabha Constituency MP said that recently, in the name of decentralisation, the Tea Board headquarters is being denuded of all powers. A large number of employees have been transferred to all over India. Even Group D staffs, numbering over 10, were transferred to Delhi, which is against all norms, Roy alleged.
The Tea Board of India has been set up under the Tea Act to act as an intermediary between the Ministry of Commerce and the tea industry. It would collect cess from the industry and distribute the same as subsidies to tea gardens. It would also promote Indian tea overseas with office in European Union headquarters in Brussels.
The shifting of the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata has been a long pending demand with the All Assam Students� Union and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) taking the lead.
The AASU has been demanding that the Tea Board headquarters and the registered offices of the tea companies, which have their tea estates in Assam, should also be located in Assam. There is no valid reason to keep the registered offices of these tea companies in Kolkata, AASU says.
When Congress regime was in power, the AASU had demanded that the Assam government and its political head should mount pressure on the Central government and not buckle to the pressure from the West Bengal lobby.
The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) has also been demanding that the Tea Board headquarters be shifted from Kolkata to Guwahati as Assam contributes to more than half the country�s total tea production. NETA chairperson Bidyananda Barkakoty said that except tea, all the other statutory commodity boards � coffee, rubber, spices and tobacco � have their headquarters in States where the products are mainly grown.