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Tea growers to be hit by gas pipeline repair

By Staff correspondent

DIBRUGARH, Feb 23 - More than two lakh small tea growers in upper Assam�s Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar districts are likely to be affected due to the proposed repairing of gas pipelines in the Naharkatia-Moran section from March to June as supply of gas to the tea manufacturing factories would be suspended during the repairing period.

The Assam Gas Company Limited has reportedly written to the tea factories in the Naharkatia-Moran section that gas supply would be suspended during the repairing period. It is learnt that the 12th no. Naharkatia-Moran section of the steel pipeline would undergo thorough check up and repair through intelligent pigging.

The small tea growers� body has feared that about 13 bought leaf tea factories and other estate factories, which procure leaves from lakhs of small tea growers in that region will be closed for lack of gas supply. The period from March to June is the peak season for the tea industry and growers also fetch high prices for good quality of green tea leaves during this period. The leaders of the All Assam Small Tea Growers� Association (AASTGA) have said that closure of the tea factories might cause unrest among the small tea growers.

AASTGA is of the view that the bought leaf tea factories may not be able to afford diesel generators as this increases the cost of production. The small tea growers� body has written to the secretary of the Petrol and Natural Gas Regulatory Board authorities in Delhi for ensuring uninterrupted gas supply to the tea factories.

The AASTGA has said that tea cultivation being the major livelihood of the people will be affected severely.

The small tea growers� body has also urged upon the state government to ensure that small tea growers were not affected by the repair works by the Assam Gas Company Limited. In a letter written to MGVK Bhanu, the Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Assam, the AASTGA leaders have asked the state government to hold talks with the authorities concerned and change the timing of the repair period to month of December or arrange an alternate pipeline for the gas supply but have not received any response.

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