GUWAHATI, July 31 – Hemendra Prasad Barooah, the doyen of the State’s tea industry is no more. According to senior journalist Wasbir Hussain, who authored the biography of Barooah, the tea planter had gone to Bangkok on July 27 for a medical check-up. Today around 2 pm Bangkok time, he returned to his hotel from the hospital and when he was taking his lunch he suddenly felt uncomfortable and despite the best efforts of the doctors of the hospital which was conducting the medical check-up, Barooah breathed his last around 3-30 pm Bangkok time.
Hussain said the senior executives of Barooah’s company will rush to Bangkok tonight and after consulting the members of his family, would arrive at a decision on where to bring the last remains of Barooah.
Abhijit Sarma, a former chairman of the Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA) said Barooah was 86.
According to Sarma, Barooah was accompanied by one of his nieces in his journey to Bangkok. Barooah leaves behind two daughters and a host of relatives.
A Harvard University alumnus, Barooah set up a corporate house Barooah and Associates with its headquarter in Kolkata. He was a chairman of the Indian Tea Association (ITA). The ITA got itself involved in the construction of the Pragjyoti ITA Centre for Performing Arts at Machkhowa in the city during his tenure as its chairman.
Barooah was also a founder of the Assam Tea Brokers Pvt Ltd, the first tea broking house of the State.
He was also a chairman of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and founder and chairman of the Kaziranga Golf Resort.
Barooah is also known for his involvement in cultural activities and as an art connoisseur. He produced the Hindi feature film Ek Pal directed by Kalpana Lajmi. Dr Bhupen Hazarika scored the music for the film, Sarma said.
Wasbir Hussain said Barooah also collected 600 paintings of doyens like M F Hussain.
Barooah was honoured by the Central Government with the Padmashree this year.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi while condoling the death of Barooah, described him as a distinguished industrialist. His death is an irreparable loss to society, said the Chief Minister.
Asom Gana Parishad president Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has condoled the death of Barooah as a great loss to the society.
State BJP president Sarbananda Sonowal also mourned the death of Barooah.
North Eastern Tea Association chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty mourned the death of Barooah. Barooah will, however, continue to inspire those involved in State’s tea industry and would remain icon of the industry.
Abhijit Sarma, past chairman of the ATPA deeply mourned the death of Barooah and said the State’s tea industry has lost a leader with his death. Wasbir Hussain described Barooah as a multi-faceted personality and for him the tea business was not the only passion. He was a social and cultural ambassador of Assam, because of his immense interest in art, culture and music of the State. It will be difficult to fill the void, he added.
Gautam Prasad Barooah, retired tea executive and a close associate of Barooah described his demise as a big loss to Assam. He said that Barooah worked silently for development of the State in various spheres like industry, culture and films.