Gorkha agitation affects tea exports from Darjeeling

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Darjeeling, Jun 20: Export of Darjeeling tea is affected badly as a result of the shutdown called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which has been demanding a separate state for the Gorkhas in Darjeeling hills in West Bengal.

Exporters fear that if the situation does not improve, they may lose out on export markets. "If the goods are not delivered, our exports will suffer. We have incurred loss of crores (millions) of rupees. Our exports to Russia, Germany, Japan, U.S.A will suffer," said Kamal Tiwari, a tea exporter. The truck drivers who ferry tea from the gardens in Darjeeling are unable to ply on roads because of the shutdown.

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The workers are also unable to report for duty due to the non-availability of means of transport. As a result, both production work and exports are affected. "We are going through a lot of problems because the tea leaves are not being supplied. This is the peak period. We are facing a lot of problems," said Subhash Khumbat, owner of a tea garden.

According to tea exporters, the losses in the tea business are running into several hundred crores (millions). This is because the foreign tea companies have entered into contracts with other countries.

The indefinite shutdown called by the GJM has paralysed life in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district - Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

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