Assam govt assures of reviving Guwahati Tea Auction Centre

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Guwahati, Jul 17 (UNI) With the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) handling mere 20 per cent of total tea produced in the state last year, the Assam government today assured that it was taking up all measures to bring back business to the GTAC.

''We are implementing all possible measures and have offered several incentives and rebates to attract sellers to the GTAC,'' state Commerce Minister Pradyut Bordoloi informed the Assembly.

He was replying to a Zero Hour notice brought by former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta to declining business through the GTAC and power problems faced by tea gardens.

Mr Mahanta, citing media reports, pointed out that 80 per cent of the tea produced in the state last year was sold through either the Calcutta auction centre or through other means.

''The government receives Re one per kg against the tea sold through GTAC. The 80 per cent loss would translate into a major financial loss considering that Assam produced almost 500 kg tea last year,'' he said.

Assam accounts for 55 per cent of the total tea produced in the country, with the state being the highest producer of CTC tea in Asia.

The former two-time Chief Minister also demanded setting up of two more tea auction centres in the state as well as measures to ensure uninterrupted power to the tea factories, besides mandatory provision for selling a fixed amount of tea through the GTAC.

Mr Bordoloi maintained that liberalisation of the economy has made it impossible for the government to impose mandatory selling.

He, however, added that the government was looking into the matter of selling a fixed amount through the GTAC with the producers and also offering concessions for the purpose.

Informing that the government had mulled setting of new auction centres, he said that since the GTAC was handling far less tea auctions than its capacity, new centres would not be viable.

He added that the GTAC has a capacity of handling 200 ml kg tea, with only 150 ml kg auctioned through it last year, which has come down from 170 ml kg a few years ago.

On the power sector, the minister said tea gardens were being encouraged to develop small hydro projects of up to 25 MW, besides government supply.

UNI SG DPM KLC1402

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