Assam CM to return meagre donation by tea industry

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Assam CM to return meagre donation by tea industry
Guwahati, Nov 29: The Assam government has decided to return a donation of about Rs.15 lakh made by at least 25 tea companies to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, and said the amount was paltry in comparison to the profits the companies make.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while expressing his displeasure over the meagre donations, directed the concerned department to return the cheques sent by these companies.

The 25 companies had recently donated an amount of Rs.1,522,537 to the relief fund.

All these companies are the members of the Indian Tea Association (ITA) and include some of the renowned names of the Assam tea industry like Rossel Tea, Goodricke, Amguri India Ltd. and Warren Tea Ltd., a statement issued by the Chief Ninisters' Office said.

"These companies earn huge profits while doing business in Assam, but they do not want to contribute towards the development of Assam," said Gogoi.

The 25 companies had recently donated Rs.1,522,537 to the relief fund

The Chief minister's Relief Fund is normally spent to help people suffering from cancer disease and also to help the poor and needy affected by calamities.

Industry Minister Pradyut Bordoloi recently stated that some of the companies, including some big tea companies, in Assam were bypassing the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) and selling their products through the tea auction centres in other parts of the country, thus resulting in a huge annual loss to the state government.

Bordoloi also warned these tea companies of stopping all subsidies and tax benefits, which they are enjoying at present, if they continue to sell their products through the auction centres in other parts of the country.

He also said that it is only fair on the Assam government's part to ask these companies to sell their products through the GTAC as the government has given lots of subsidies and huge tax benefits to these tea companies.

Although Assam accounts for 55 percent of the country's total tea production, only 27 percent of the tea produced here is sold through the GTAC.

Last year, the country's total tea production was 1,132 million kg, of which Assam's share was 55 percent.

However, only 116 million kg were sold through the GTAC, leading to a loss about Rs.20 crore to the state.

IANS

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