GUWAHATI, March 29 – A written reply from the Central Government on the issue of declaring tea as the national drink of the country is expected shortly. At least this is the impression Rajya Sabha member from the State and former Union Minister Birendra Prasad Baishya has got in his recent discussions with the senior Union Government Ministers and officers on the issue.
Moreover, Baishya raised the issue formally in the Upper House of the Parliament Tuesday as a Special Mention under Rule 377 of the Rajya Sabha. Under this rule, it is mandatory on the part of the Government to give a written reply, Baishya said while talking to this correspondent over phone from New Delhi on Wednesday.
For the first time in Parliament, the issue of tea as national drink of India was raised in Parliament by Birendra Prasad Baishya. It needs mention here that in his State Budget speech 2012-13, Chief Minister -cum-Finance Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, has stated on page number 80, “Central Government has been requested to declare ‘tea’ as the national drink. This will be vigorously followed up”.
Baishya said in his speech in the Rajya Sabha that tea industry has been making tremendous contribution to the economy and society of the county by way of contributing around Rs 10,000 crore as annual turnover and providing employment to around 1.2 million people, 50 per cent of whom are women.
Tea is a household name for around 83 per cent of the country’s population, as 83 per cent of the households consume the drink. The size of the consumers of the drink is increasing at the rate of three per cent in a year.
Moreover, plantation of tea is spread over 5, 80,000 hectares of the country and it is helping in maintaining the ecological balance in the country with its green cover. This is the only industry in which the country has been able to maintain its dominance since 1839, Baishya said.