DIBRUGARH, Nov 3 - The All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association today stormed the head office of the Small Tea Growers Development Directorate at Amolapatty here in protest against the Directorate�s failure to discipline the tea estate factories and bought leaf tea factories.
The small tea growers� body alleged that neither the tea estate factories nor the bought leaf tea factories that have been purchasing green tea leaves from the small growers were paying the minimum benchmark price (MBP) to the growers. In clear rejection of the Tea Board directives and guidelines of the district administration, several factories purchasing leaves from the growers are paying meagre Rs 7 and 8 for per kilogram of leaves, Rohit Borgohain, general secretary, AASTGA said.
The AASTGA has demanded that the authorities must initiate legal action against all those factories violating the TMCO rules of the Tea Board. The association alleged that certain factories were fixing prices of green tea leaves daily on their own. This illegal practice must stop, Borgohain said.
Following the demonstration and subsequent discussion with the leaders of the small tea growers� body today, the Deputy Director of the Small Tea Growers Development Directorate gave in writing that the Directorate office would ensure that the factories adhered to the minimum benchmark price. He also reportedly assured the delegation of the AASTGA that the amount, which has been denied to the growers as per MBP would be realized from the factories for payment to the growers by December 31, 2015.
It needs to be mentioned here that the Directorate had made similar promise last year but totally failed to do anything on the price issue of the green tea leaves. The Directorate officials had assured the AASTGA leaders then that they would take steps for immediate crackdown on all tea factories not complying with the minimum benchmark price while purchasing green tea leaves from small tea growers.
Among others, the AASTGA also asked the Development Directorate not to engage Centre for Education and Communication to handle issues of the tea growers. The association said that the AASTGA must be taken into confidence for any matter concerning the small tea growers. Hundreds of small tea growers from various parts of the Upper Assam district took part in the demonstration at the head office of the Small Tea Growers Development Directorate.