GUWAHATI, July 29 - Heavy and continuous rainfall in the tea-growing belt, comprising Assam and North Bengal, has sent alarm bells ringing in the tea industry. If tea industry sources are to be believed, the adverse climatic conditions could reduce tea yield in the range of 25 per cent in the major Upper Assam tea-producing districts of Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Golaghat.
PK Bhattacharjee, secretary general of the Tea Association of India, told The Assam Tribune that the second half of July had witnessed a deviation in rainfall pattern of around 60 per cent from the normal rainfall recorded in that period, and consequently, the crop position in the districts of Dibrugarh, Golaghat and Sivasagar was expected to be 21 per cent behind that of the corresponding period last year.
�Dibrugarh and Tinsukia received a rainfall of 12-14 inches more in this month (July) and the crop position is expected to be down by 25 per cent. The total rainfall in Dibrugarh till July 25 has been 1,365.72mm. In the districts of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar, the rainfall received is double that of last year and many gardens have been severely waterlogged,� he said.
In the districts of Kokrajhar, Lakhimpur and Baksa, the rainfall ranged between 22 and 23 inches and the crop is expected to take a dip by end July. The rainfall in the districts of Sonitpur and Darrang ranges from 7 to 9 inches.
�Cachar, however, reports of average rainfall and the cropping pattern should be at par with that of last year,� he said.
North Bengal had received 40 inches of rainfall in the period between July 18 and 25, whereas the region generally receives 80-100 inches of rainfall on an average yearly. Huge tracts of garden land have been submerged, disrupting the operations of the gardens in the peak production period.
�Although the cropping pattern remained normal till July 15, thereafter heavy rainfall with diminished sunshine is going to impact the overall July crop. Distress calls have been made to the district administration, but assistance for the gardens in the form of dredging are still being awaited to save the tea garden land and the tea bushes from wilting,� Bhattacharjee said.
Tea industry sources said that the industry, both in Assam and Bengal, is staring at grim days ahead due to the weather that was likely to hit production. �In the event of lesser crop production, the industry would be severely handicapped in the matter of bonus payment also,� sources added.