GUWAHATI, Sept 14 - Already facing myriad challenges, the tea industry in the State is now in the grip of a severe shortage of power, which has doubled the cost of production in some gardens.
Industry sources said the non-availability of grid supply during the critical period of manufacturing is posing a grave challenge to the viability of the tea estates, particularly in Barak Valley.
Sources said the Tea Association of India in August had moved the Power Minister to ensure grid supply in the region, but nothing has changed.
The sources said grid non-availability varies from 11 hours to 22 hours per day in some places of Barak Valley, and the cost of production on account of electricity gets spiked to Rs 25 in place for Rs 13 per kg.
Citing examples, Tea Association of India secretary general PK Bhattacharjee said that from the year 2013-14 to year 2017-18, two gardens in Barak Valley – Ruttonpore and Pathini Tea Estate – have borne an additional expenditure of Rs 425.01 lakh and Rs 407.11 lakh respectively for sustained manufacture of tea from green leaves through captive power generation by diesel due to non-availability of grid supply.
“The cumulative expenditure on this singular heading in the entire Barak region could well be imagined. The abnormal hike on electricity expenditure has added to the woes of the tea estates in Barak Valley, the cost of price realization in the region is a mere of Rs 121.41,” he said.
Sources said a hike in the ‘fixed-cost’, like electricity due to non-availability of grid supply on a sustained basis, is pushing some tea estates to the brink of closure.
The industry has appealed to the State government to mitigate this long standing problem.