GUWAHATI, June 3 � The Union Government has decided to set up a separate directorate for the small tea growers under the Tea Board of India. This was made public by the Additional Secretary (Plantations) of the Ministry of Commerce Vijaya Laxmi Joshi at a consultative meeting held for preparing the approach paper for the Twelfth Five Year Plan here today.
According to the tea industry sources, representatives of the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) demanded of the Central Government that since the highest number of the small tea growers belong to Assam, the headquarters of the said directorate should be located in Guwahati.
The representatives of the Assam tea producers� associations � the Assam Tea Planters� Association (ATPA), Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP) and the NETA, also demanded support for installation of the required irrigation infrastructure in the tea estates (TEs) in view of the changes taking place in the climate system. The changes in the climate system have made irrigation facilities inevitable in the TEs of the State, they maintained.
In this connection, they suggested that a study on the feasibility of drip irrigation facilities in the TEs should also be undertaken.
These tea producers� associations also demanded that at least one representative from them should be inducted in the Tea Board permanently as a member. Justifying this demand, they said that their organisations represent around 400 TEs of the State.
At this point, the Commerce Ministry Additional Secretary assured the gathering of the meeting that one representative from the Small Tea Growers� Association of the State would be inducted as a member in the Tea Board.
Representative of the NETA demanded that an institute for tea industry�s human resources development should be set up in the State. The NETA representative named Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Guwahati as the likely places for locating the headquarters of the said institute.
Justifying the demand for the said institute, the NETA representative said that there is an urgent need to take care of the development of the human resources of the tea industry covering all the sections, through proper training, right from the managerial level to the workers� level.
The Indian Tea Association (ITA) also made a similar demand for setting up such institutes at the major tea growing districts, said the tea industry sources.
The representatives of the tea producers� associations also pleaded that the recommendations made by the S N Menon Committee on the competitiveness of the Indian tea industry should be implemented and the Tea Board should continue to bear the cost of running the e-auctioning system of the six auction centres of the country for a few more years till the system becomes a robust one and the problems faced by it are overcome.
It needs mention here that the tea industry is supposed to bear the cost for running the e-auctioning system in the tea auction centres of the country with effect from January 1, 2012. The estimated cost of running the system is estimated to be around Rs 5 crore annually. The six tea auction centres of the country handle about 500 million kilograms of tea annually.
The issues of setting up an integrated tea park in Guwahati and generic promotion of tea in both domestic and international markets and the provision for extending subsidy to the TEs for rainwater harvesting also came up for discussion in the meeting.
The meeting, presided over by the Additional Secretary (Plantations), Ministry of Commerce, was attended, among others, by chairman of the Tea Board Dinesh Sarma, chairmen of the Rubber Board and the Spices Board of India, Director, Tea of the Ministry of Commerce, representatives of the tea producers� associations of the organized sector and the small tea growers� associations of West Bengal, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Besides, the people connected with rubber and spices plantation were also present in the meeting, said the sources.