NEW DELHI, Sept 29 - The Tea Board�s role in promoting export and increasing production of tea has come in for sharp criticism as exports have declined.
A Parliamentary Panel has said that the Tea Board has failed to make sincere efforts in implementation of its schemes, which are crucial to proper development of the tea sector in the country. Though there is growth in the production of tea, exports have not increased. Rather tea exports have declined.
The Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee strongly feels that Tea Board�s inability to bring improvements in the quality of Indian tea is the biggest reason behind declining export.
This fear of the Committee is strongly buttressed by the dismal achievement of the Tea Board under the scheme �Quality Upgradation and Product Diversification� where the Board could achieve mere 12.72 per cent, 20 per cent and 18 per cent of the targets fixed in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively, it said in a recent report.
The Committee expresses its displeasure over the suboptimal performance of the Tea Board. This apathy is equally reflective in poor implementation of other schemes like Plantation Development, Special Purpose Tea Fund and Orthodox Production subsidy. The Committee notes that the Department has cited loss of orthodox tea production to the tune of 20 million kilograms during the May-July period due to adverse climatic conditions as one of the reasons behind the decline in the export volume of Indian tea last year.
The Committee while agreeing with the adverse climatic condition argument also desires to highlight the fact that the Scheme of Orthodox Production Subsidy has also not done well during the first three years of the 12th Plan period. �The Tea Board has failed to achieve the set targets by a good measure. Had the scheme been implemented properly the shortfall in production could have compensated from Nilgiri and Himachal areas,� the report argued.
According to the International Tea Committee (ITC)-London, the export volume of Indian tea displayed a decline of 3.50 per cent in 2014.
The Committee recommended that the Union Ministry of Commerce should make its monitoring mechanism more robust to see that the Tea Board does not fail to discharge its mandate. It also desires that the Tea Board clear all the pending subsidies, so that the stake-holders may be motivated to approach the Tea Board under its various schemes for development of tea sector in the country.