GUWAHATI, Nov 18 – Echoing the sentiments of the State’s people, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said in the National Productivity Council meeting in New Delhi recently, “Certain anomalies like the location of the Tea Board office at Kolkata also needs to be remedied and a similar establishment needs to be effectively provided at Guwahati.”
For the past about three decades, the people of the State have been demanding shifting of the Tea Board headquarters to Assam.
The Brahmaputra Valley has the single largest area under tea cultivation in the world. Assam contributes 13 per cent to the overall global tea production.
Assam has the highest land area under tea cultivation among all the tea growing States of India. As per the latest Tea Board figures of 2007, the total land area under tea plantation in India is 5, 78,458 hectares and in Assam 3, 21,319 hectares of land is under tea, that is, 55 per cent of India’s total area under tea is in Assam alone.
There are five statutory Commodity Boards under the Union Department of Commerce. They are – Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Spices and Tobacco.
Except Tea Board, all other Boards are headquartered in the states where the products are mainly grown. For example, Karnataka is the birthplace of coffee in India and Coffee Board is headquartered in Bengaluru, Karnataka. Rubber cultivation in India has been traditionally confined to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Rubber Board is headquartered in Kottayam, Kerala. Similarly, the Spices Board is headquartered in Cochin, Kerala. Tobacco Board is headquartered in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh.
But, ironically, though Assam is the birthplace of tea in India and Assam alone produces more than 50 per cent of the country's total tea, the Tea Board is headquartered in Kolkata, West Bengal!
The Tea Industry in Assam is in need of support. For the small tea growers of the State a special financial incentive package has to be provisioned for and support for processing of tea leaves in a common facility centre on cluster based approach needs to be adopted separately. In order to design a tailor made incentive based package for the small growers support from the Government of India in terms of financial resources is necessitated. Certain anomalies like the location of the tea board office at Kolkatta also needs to remedied and a similar establishment needs to effectively provided at Guwahati.