The tea industry in West Bengal is witnessing a major boost to employment with the State government’s relaxation of norms for use of leasehold land in a tea garden of Darjeeling.
The move may induce garden owners to promote tourism, horticulture projects and other allied economic activities, said P.K. Bhattacharjee, secretary general, Tea Association of India
“The calibrated manner in which the State’s land laws have been amended speaks of the government’s well-intentioned acts in this direction,” he said.
Government Steps :-
The government of West Bengal take several steps to increase tea tourism. Like recently allowed the tea industry to use 15% of land inside a tea garden area for other economic activities. This also includes tea tourism and horticulture. However, it bars housing projects.
Indian Tea Association (ITA) Steps :-
Indian Tea Association (ITA) chairman Vivek Goenka said that the ITA had already identified crops cultivable in West Bengal and the government’s initiative would allow it on a commercial scale.
In 2015, the West Bengal Government had amended relevant schedules of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act to allow tea estates to use leasehold land for horticulture, medicinal plant farming, dairy farms and many micro project besides tea tourism projects.
However, this had capped the relaxation to certain fixed proportions for various uses at 20 acres.
By not allowing housing activities, the government had try to resolve not to disturb the present ecosystem of Darjeeling.
The government has also assured of a ‘Tea and Tourism Allied Industry Policy 2019’ to complement these initiatives.
The tea industry of Darjeeling has a rising costs (around ₹185/kg) and stagnant prices (about ₹157.5/kg in WB). In this scenario, many gardens have begun incurring losses.
Productivity and quality too have been an issue, especially in view of the ageing bushes. For this reason many estate owners have failed to rejuvenate, leading to low yields and poor quality.