GUWAHATI, June 26 � The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) has called upon the State Government to be �judicious� to the green leaf growers having sufficient quantity of green leaf by granting them the required permission for setting up their own factories.
In a memorandum to the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce of the Government of Assam, the Tea Association has argued that bybeing prevented from setting up their factories, �they are forced to sell green leaf to the existing factories, which at times offer very low prices without any logic.�
Unless the capacity enhancement of the existing Bought Leaf Factories (BLFs) and Estate Factories is restricted, the whole purpose of restricting emergence of the new BLFs will be defeated, said the Association. For, it argues, that about 80 per cent of the State�s about 800 tea estates and over 100 BLFs buy the green leaf from the same sources.
As per official figures, 70 per cent of the Quality Upgradation and Product Diversification Scheme (QUPDS) fund of the Tea Board is used only for capacity expansion of the existing factories.
Welcoming the restriction imposed by the Government on the mushroom growth of the BLFs as a �step in the positive direction,� it has said that the upcoming BLFs, which are not supported by their own plantations of 100 acres, should be subjected to all the conditions stipulated by the State Government.
The Association has, however, opposed the idea of imposing a dozen of conditions on those new factories which are supported by their own plantations of the size of 100 acres or more, stating that to bring back the lost glory of Assam tea, small factories should be allowed to be set up within the vicinity of the plantation area.
For, it argued, by setting up small factories within the vicinity of plantation, long distance travelling of raw materials as well as the multiple handling of green leaves can be avoided.
The Association has stated that it has requested the Union Commerce Ministry to facilitate the design of small factories which are economically feasible with the help of any institute dealing with technologies.
Considering the difficulties faced by its member tea estates located inside the district of Karbi Anglong, the Association has argued that these tea estates should be allowed to set up their factories in the bordering district with some special considerations.
The Tea Association has further urged the Government to see to it that the licences for manufacturing orthodox and other specialty teas are issued only to those entrepreneurs who have their own plantations. For, it has argued that it is impossible to process quality orthodox tea from the green leaf procured from other sources.
It has appealed to the authorities concerned to regularize those BLF units, which are running without the Tea Board licence but have observed all the formalities for the purpose, besides taking strict action against those BLFs, which are running without observing any formalities for securing the Tea Board licence. It needs mention here that the Tea Board licence is mandatory for manufacturing tea.