Tea plantation brings hope to trouble-torn Changlang villagers

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Itanagar, Jun 1 (UNI) Tea cultivation has the potential to be a money spinner for denizens of the insurgency-hit Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh as it can provide them the means for a better livelihood.

The Rangkatu Tea Garden, in a unique effort, has been taking initiatives to encourage the indigenous population of Changlang to take up tea plantation for a viable livelihood.

''We have been providing technical know-how on plantation, plucking, disease-control and other necessary scientific knowledge on tea plantation to the villagers,''General Manager of the garden K Mishra informed.

He pointed out that along with employment, the local youth are imparted training on the trade before they could start out on their own on their two to ten hectares of plantations.

''We go to villages and procure the leaves at market rates, which ranges from Rs 10 to 12 per kg,'' he added.

Way back in 1995-96, during the initial stages, Mr Mishra said the garden provided tea saplings to the villagers as encouragement.

''Even today, we are always there for any technical help to the villagers,'' he underlined.

Meanwhile, the Arundhya Tea Industries, Changlang, which is located within the Rangkatu Tea Garden has the potential to be a huge success.

''We used to procure tea leaves from villagers along with our own leaves from the garden and send it to Assam for processing, but now we are going to do the processing here,'' Manager S K Joshi informed.

He said the production was yet to begin as everything was on trial basis at the moment.

''We are installing machines for processing but it will take some time,'' he added.

Divisional Manager Dilip Boruah said it was difficult to get regular workers at the plantations because of the insurgency problem.

''We are paying good wages, better medical facilities and also made provisions for education of the workers' children in private schools free of cost. Besides, we have government community schools in the garden itself. Since inception, we have maintained equal payment for both male and female workers,'' Mr Boruah claimed.

He added of the total 214 hectares of the garden, 114 hectares were under plantation, employing 75 to 200 workers at a time.

The Rangkatu Tea Garden is nine kms from Changlang towards Margherita in Assam's Tinsukia district.

With a processing unit in their vicinity, the villagers of Kengku, Rangkatu and Khuchep would benefit in the times to come.

With more and more villagers taking to tea plantations, the area cleared for Jhum cultivation could be utilised, besides arresting the Jhum activities.

UNI UPB DPM ATI AS1410

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