Guwahati: The North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) on Wednesday underscored the shortage of coal and urea for the tea industry, and urged the government to allow use of the Bangladesh waterways for exports to support planters.
Addressing the 20th Biennial General Meeting of NETA here, its Chairman Sunil Jallan said the present scenario of the industry is quite gloomy.
“It is always easy to wind up and withdraw during difficult times, but the mantra in tea has always been survive and revive. The problems are ours and therefore, we ought to look within ourselves to find solutions,” he said.
The government can extend its helping hand only when the members come forward with doable solutions, Jallan said.
He said the major issues faced by the industry during 2021 were shortages of coal and urea, besides challenges like climate change, low land and labour productivity, demand-supply imbalance, low per capita tea consumption, frequent power cuts and natural gas supply to only 50 per cent factories out of about 800 units.
“The total annual requirement of coal for tea factories of Assam is 3,50,000 metric tonnes. Our Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had recently met the Union Minister for Coal and Mines and discussed about the possibility of more coal mines in Assam,” he said.
The annual requirement of urea for the tea plantations of Assam, including big and small growers, across the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys is 1,13,200 metric tonnes.
The NETA chairman also pointed out that at present, the waterways and ports (Chittagong, Mongla) of Bangladesh can only be used for re-entry into India and not for exporting goods.
“We are happy that senior Bangladeshi diplomat, Ambassador Shamsher Chowdhury, responded positively and has assured he will take up the matter with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. We appeal to the government of Assam to take it up with appropriate authorities,” Jallan said.
NETA also urged the central government to declare tea as the ‘National Drink of India’, as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce (PSCC) had recommended the same in its report on performance of the plantation sector — tea and coffee industry, tabled in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in August 2012.
“Former President, Late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, during his address at the World Tea Science Congress on 22nd November 2011 at Jorhat, Assam had said – It will be no exaggeration if we call tea the National Drink of India’,” Jallan added.
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