Silchar, Sep 14 (UNI): The current wave of devastating flood has caused severe damage to tea industry in Barak Valley, industry sources today said.
The tea belt in three districts of south Assam, consisting of 104 tea estates, known as Cachar Tea, has incurred a financial lose of over Rs 20 crore due to natural calamities since August this year.
Talking to UNI Indian Tea Association, Surma Valley branch secretary Sumanta Guha Thakurata today said the land-locked region has been suffering due to communication bottlenecks after snapping of railway connectivity with Guwahati from June end and occasional closure of national highway-44 due to landslides in Meghalaya.
The situation deteriorated after devastating flood in Barak Valley, that severed link to other parts of the country for past one week, Mr Guha Thakurata added.
The valley has been reeling under flood water for more than past one week, where some 10,000,00 people have been affected.
The ITA official said 50 per cent of the tea gardens in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts of the Valley have been affected due to the flood. In a number of gardens maturated and young teas have been inundated by floods.
He said quite a few gardens have also been compelled to unofficially declare closure as homes of the workers, plantations and factories have been inundated. Workers of these gardens have taken sheltered in factory compound, he said.
Also there were great scarcity of high speed diesel, coal and food grains in majority of the tea gardens as the roads were under waters. Supply of electricity was dislocated in the gardens over past few days, he said.
The ITA branch secretary said despatch of teas from majority of the tea estates has been held up due to dislocation of communication, causing serious bottlenecks to the industry.
With bonus due to be distributed very shortly to the workers before the coming festive season, severe financial strain was being felt by the managements, Mr Guha Thakurata said, adding that quite a few gardens might find it difficult to pay puja bonus to their workers this year.
He said fall of price of tea by about Rs 10 per kg this year also compounded the situation. While during 2006 Cachar Tea was sold at Rs 63.82 per kg, in the current year price of Cachar Tea is Rs 54.93 per kg.
Meanwhile, Consultative Committee of Plantation Association, Barak Valley branch in a memorandum urged upon Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to consider total withdrawal of green leaf cess in respect of the Barak Valley tea industry for the survival of the industry in this region.
XC PC AKP1651