Agri Business

Small tea growers along India-Bangladesh border face problem

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on November 12, 2013

Large scale pilferage of green leaves has hit hard the small growers producing tea along the 35-km-long India-Bangladesh border in Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal.

The stolen leaves are being smuggled out to meet the demand of tea processing factories located across the border in Rangpur district of Bangladesh, complains a spokesman for Jalpaiguri District Small Tea Growers Association. The matter has been taken up with the district administration, he says.

There are about 1,000 such tea estates spread over 8,000 acres along the border and the total production of green leaves will come to about 50 million kgs annually. At an average price of Rs 13 per kg, the market value of the produce is not small.

The pilferage has been going on for the past several months and the items being targeted are not only green leaves but also pumpsets and other farming implements.

Zero point

The crux of the problem, as inquiries reveal, lies in the location of the tea estates in areas earmarked as zero point. Many years ago when the Government had granted permission to produce tea in these areas, the border was not clearly demarcated, nor was there any fencing. Once the fences were put up along the border, these tea estates fell in zero point outside the fencing and therefore also outside the operational jurisdiction of the contingents of the Border Security Force posted along the border. The ownership of land of many of these estates too are not clearly defined, it is learnt.

An estimated 4,000 people directly employed by the small growers in tea estates along the border are a worried lot these days as their employers threaten to suspend production if the present problem persists.

santanu.sanyal@thehindu.co.in

Published on November 12, 2013

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