Guwahati, April 1: The tea industry in Barak Valley has reiterated demand for setting up of a Coal Depot to facilitate ‘throughout the year’ availability of coal for tea production by the tea estates in the region.
Chairman, Tea Association of India, Barak Valley Branch, S K Taparia while addressing the 47th Annual General Meeting flagged that the requirement of energy in tea industry is high and 21% of its energy demand is met through electrical energy while the remaining 79% is supplied by coal.
Since the last tea season Barak Valley tea industry has been facing shortage of coal for stoppage of supply by the local vendors.
“The survival of the Tea Industry of Barak Valley with its huge workforce depends on availability of Coal locally at a reasonable price. Tea Industry being the backbone of the economy of this Valley, we urge upon the Govt. to set up a Coal Depot at Barak Valley, so that in all-weather tea industry can procure Coal at a reasonable price,” Taparia said.
The erratic power supply and frequent tripping of electric supply made the industry more and more dependent on captive power generation for running tea factories of the Barak Valley area, resulting in an uneconomical increase in cost of production. The APDCL authority has started connecting tea gardens with dedicated power lines.
“We urge upon the Assam Government and APDCL authority to connect all the tea factories of the Valley with dedicated feeder line and also request to setup 33KVA power sub-stations in and around tea gardens so that the tea industry being major contributor to the exchequer of APDCL from this region may avail the quality uninterrupted power for production of tea at a reasonable price,” the industry leader said.
He also urged the authority to help the industry by keeping regular supply of UREA, MOP, Rock-phosphate etc., at subsidies rate for smooth and continuous agricultural activities of tea gardens of the Valley.
Yield per hectare is the lowest in Barak Valley compared to other parts of North India. Along with other factors, reasons of low land productivity are ageing tea bushes, high vacancies and poor bush frame, which can be overcome to the large extent by replanting, rejuvenation and infilling. The TAI has urged upon the Tea Board to provide funds for replanting, rejuvenation and infilling. The Tea Research Association (TRA) has been exhorted for development of suitable clone variety for this region.
During the season of 2021, Barak Valley region produced a total 43.23 million kg of Tea compared to 44.84 million kg in 2019 & 41.04 million kg in 2020. Production in 2020 and 2021 declined due to COVID protocol and severe climatic changes.