GUWAHATI, March 1 - The debt burden of the Assam Tea Corporation Limited (ATCL) as on date is around Rs 510 crore, Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told the Assembly today, informing that a plan has been rolled out to revive the fifteen gardens of the government-owned company.
Blaming �mismanagement� for the present plight of the ATCL gardens, the minister said the corporation was posting an annual loss of Rs 52 crore every year.
�We are trying to revive the gardens. During the last two years, the production has rose from 1.65 lakh kg to 1.87 lakh kg. We are also reviving the factories and constructing some new ones,� he said, adding that the government hopes that the corporation would reach a break-even point by 2024.
New plantations are coming up in around 2,500 hectares of land, while many nurseries � totalling 1.5 crore saplings � are also being set up. The defunct factories at Negheriting and Lungsung TEs have been made functional.
The minister also informed that 219 bighas of land belonging to the ATCL (in five gardens) is under encroachment. �Cases have been lodged and legal steps initiated against the encroachers. We are also initiating measures to fence the sensitive areas and demarcate the garden boundaries by digging drains,� he said in response to a question by Congress MLA Durga Bhumij.
The fifteen ATCL gardens spread across seven districts have 16,695 employees, including 93 at its headquarters. The gardens were taken over by the government in 1972 following a depression in the tea industry.