Commerce ministry to come out with package for sick tea gardens

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Kochi, Oct 1 (UNI) Observing that several sick tea gardens in the country were on the verge of closure, union Minister of State for Commerce and Plantations Jairam Ramesh today said the government will announce a package to revive these.

A committee was being set up to look into the issue and a package, similar to the one introduced for closed tea gardens, would be worked out, Mr Ramesh said at a press conference here.

Stating that the total number of sick tea gardens was still to be worked out, the minister said there are a total of 1600 tea gardens in the country -- 154 in Kerala, 300 in West Bengal and 1200 in Assam.

About the takeover of certain closed tea gardens under section 16(E) of the Tea Act, the minister said a committee had been set up under Addl. Commerce Secretary O P Arya with two representatives each from the Kerala, West Bengal and Assam Governments on August 19, 2007.

The committee will review the issue and proceed with the takeover. Under section 16 (E), the Centre can initiate proceedings to take over, without any investigation, a tea garden lying closed for more than three months and hand it over to a new owner.

Stating that the major use of the section was expected to be in West Bengal, Mr Ramesh said about six closed tea gardens there and four to five in Kerala might be taken over under the act.

UNI

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