GUWAHATI, June 30 � The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) and the Assam Chah Karmachari Sangha (ACKS) have urged Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to use his good offices for declaring tea as the national drink of India. Both of the sanghas are affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC). The ACMS represents about 3, 50,000 workers permanently engaged in the about 800 tea estates of the State. The ACKS has a membership strength of around 18,000.
In two separate memorandums to the Prime Minister, the Sangha has claimed that tea industry employs 1.2 million people all over the country permanently. Thus, it is the second largest employer in the organised sector of the country. It also employs an additional 2 million people indirectly. Significantly, 50 per cent of the workers engaged in the tea industry are women.
The tea industry of the country is 180-year-old and it has a rich heritage. Tea is indigenous to India. Moreover, tea is the cheapest of the commercial beverages and it has attained the status of the common man�s beverage in the country with wide acceptability.
Tea industry being an agro-based industry supports rural economy and there are around 1,50,000 small tea gardens all over the country. The tea industry as a whole is helping maintaining the ecological balance in the country with its green cover over a considerably vast area, said the Sangha.
The ACMS memorandum has been signed by Dileswar Tanti, general secretary of the Sangha, while the ACKS memorandum has been signed by its general secretary G C Barpatragohain.
It needs mention here that India produced 988.33 million kgs of tea in 2011. Assam (Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys jointly) produced 508.74 million kgs of tea that year, thereby, the contribution of the State to the total tea production of the country last year was 51.5 per cent.
The Brahmaputra Valley alone produced 460.67 million kgs of tea in 2011 and thereby, it contributed 47 per cent to the country�s total tea production that year.