AGARTALA, July 31 - The Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) is planning massive tea plantations along the international border within the framework of border guidelines.
After a preliminary discussion, the TTDC has already submitted the proposal of a border area development project to the State Government in order to raise tea plantations in an area between the zero line and up to 150 yards beyond the barbed wire fencing.
This will ensure proper utilisation of the unused land outside the fencing. The State shares a 856-km international border with Bangladesh and most area outside the fencing has remained unused due to security reasons.
The TTDC has decided to raise tea plantations in these border areas outside the fencing patch to ensure proper utilisation of land, said the chairman of the State tea corporation, Santosh Saha. Animesh Deb of Katlamara area in Mohanpur subdivision has already raised a tea plantation outside the fencing and he has been making Rs 4.80 lakh annually.
�Deb�s success story has motivated us to extend the plantation to other areas for the benefit of the border villagers,� Saha said, adding that he had already had a word with the Chief Minister in this regard. �The Chief Minister has allowed me to go ahead with the plan,� he said. If everything falls in place, rubber plantations may also be raised by using MGNREGA funds. If the funds fall short, the Government may extend its helping hand, he added.
Saha further said that the TTDC would distribute 20 lakh tea saplings to border villagers to raise tea plantations. �All the BDOs and panchayats have been asked to prepare lists of beneficiaries in this regard,� he added.
The Tea Board of India has already held a consultation meeting with tea garden owners and small tea growers at Brahmakunda area to know their problems. Some tea planters pointed out that the previous Government had set up tea processing units by ignoring guidelines. Now the tea planters want the Government to undertake MGNREGA works from December to March to ensure availability of workers.
Saha said that the objective of the meeting was to promote the tea industry in the State. �The TTDC has already taken some steps and these are paying off. Tea produced here fetched Rs 177 per kg at the auction market this year,� he pointed out. Tripura produces 90 lakh kg of finished tea and around 15,000 people are engaged in the tea industry.