GUWAHATI, Feb 21 � Tea industry has called upon the Assam Government to reduce the land revenue rates and cess on green leaf. The industry has also requested the Government to waive the interests and penalties on the outstanding dues.
In a memorandum to the State Government, the Tea Association of India (TAI) said that the land revenue rates in Assam were the highest among all the tea producing states of the country and it should be brought down to a reasonable level. At present, the land revenue rate in the Brahmaputra valley is Rs 22 per bigha and it is Rs 16 in the Barak valley.
On the issue of green leaf cess, the TAI said that with effect from January 1, 2010, the cess was increased to 40 paisa per kg in the Brahmaputra valley and 35 paisa in the Barak valley, which is very high. The TAI said that the cess on West Bengal is only 12 paisa per kg and the same should be brought down in Assam to a reasonable level so that the gardens in Assam remain competitive in the all-India perspective.
The memorandum said that the limit of investment in plant and machinery was enhanced to Rs five crore for SSI units by a circular in 2006 but the sales tax authorities in some districts did not accept the same as there was no confirmation from the Finance (Taxation) Department. The memorandum said that necessary instructions should be issued by the concerned department immediately.
The TAI said that the tea industry is required to provide the basic health-care facilities to its workers and their dependent residents under the provisions of the Plantation Labour Act. The medical services rendered by the hospitals of the tea gardens are purely welfare activities without any commercial motive. Such hospitals also do not usually carry out surgical operations. There is no justification in bringing the garden hospitals under the Bio Medical rules.