Kolkata, Nov 19 (UNI) The ongoing agitation in Darjeeling and other parts of the hills was hampering production and export of tea in a big way, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh said today.
Addressing mediapersons after inaugurating the electronic auction system for tea here, the Minister said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-sponsored movement has also halted setting up of a tea research centre in Kurseong.
Mr Ramesh said the Rs five crore tea research centre was poised for providing new guidelines in regard to increase of tea production in the country regretting that the unrest was creating an obstacle to the purpose.
''Darjeeling, having 87 tea gardens, is accounted for a sizeable production of tea in the country and eight per cent of total export of the product and the agitation is coming in the way of overall economic development of the region,'' Mr Ramesh observed.
He, however, hoped that the situation in Darjeeling would return to normal soon as another tripartite meeting to resolve the vexed issue was on the cards.
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