GUWAHATI, March 24 � The All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association (AASTGA) has decided to observe an awareness week from March 29 to April 4 with the aim to prepare the small tea growers for quality production.
General secretary of the association Karuna Mahanta told this newspaper here today that the week would start with awareness meetings on March 29 at 11 am all over the State. This will be followed by similar meetings at the local levels during the week. The association has 96 local committees.
The Tea Board of India has assured steps to provide resource persons for the purpose, said Mahanta.
Mahanta further said that a delegation of the association was told by Revenue Minister Prithivi Majhi on March 22 that possession certificates would be issued soon to small tea growers for government land they are occupying. Around l,17,000 hectares of land are under possession of the small tea growers and about 90 per cent of this area is government land.
The minister also told the association delegation that the small tea growers would be exempted from the drive to realise penalty for occupying government land unauthorisedly.
The delegation was told by Industries Minister Pradyut Bordoloi on March 23 that the process to issue licences to the self-help groups and cooperative societies of the small tea growers for setting up factories is on. Soon the licences would be issued, the Minister said.
Five self-help groups and cooperative societies of the small tea growers had appeared in the interview held jointly by the Industries Department and the Tea Board in November 2011 for the purpose. The association called for steps to issue licences to them.
The minister assured steps to prevail upon the factory owners to issue receipts against the tea cess of 25 paise they are made to pay while selling their green tea leaves.
The minister also assured steps to issue certificates to the over 68,000 small tea growers listed in the Directory of Small Tea Growers prepared by the State Government after a baseline survey in the wake of a request from the association, Mahanta said.
Steps to hold the meetings of the district level monitoring committees for the small tea growers and bought leaf factories regularly was also assured by the minister to the association delegation.
The delegation of the Association was assured by the Executive Director of the Tea Board�s Guwahati Office all sorts of cooperation for its endeavours to improve quality, Mahanta said.