GUWAHATI, July 25 - The State Government will conduct an inquiry into alleged siphoning off funds released to small tea growers (STG) under the Tea Cess Utilisation Policy.
Replying to a Zero Hour discussion in the Legislative Assembly regarding small tea growers in the State, Minister for Commerce and Industry CM Patowary said that the previous State Government did not provide any benefits to the small tea growers despite cess worth Rs 163 crore being paid by such tea growers till 2015-16.
He said that while the Cess Utilisation (Amendment) Policy, 2015, for development of small tea growers, which was passed by the Cabinet last year, has provision to provide benefits like 75 per cent subsidy of the actual cost of vehicle for transportation of green leaf, subsidy against interest of bank loan and special assistance on plant and machinery, the small growers have not received any benefits so far.
The minister added that only Rs 15-crore fund was released to the small tea growers in 2011-12 under the Cess Utilization Policy.
�From this financial year onwards, all benefits under the policy will be provided. I will also talk with the Tea Board of India to help small tea growers who want to set up their own factories and I will also take up the matter with the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry,� Patowary said.
Earlier, raising the issue, BJP MLA Padma Hazarika said that despite the cess collected from them, under the Assam Cess Utilisation Policy, 2010, small tea growers have received no benefit from the Government.
He said that though Rs 15-crore fund was released in 2011-12, none of the small tea growers received anything from the Government.
Hazarika demanded an inquiry into the matter. His demand was supported by other BJP legislators as well as MLAs of other parties.
Patowary said that an inquiry will be conducted under a senior officer, adding that it would be conducted in a time-bound manner.