Participants at a meeting convened by the Tea Board at Kolkata to resolve the impasse among stakeholders in the trade centres at Coimbatore and Coonoor said it was a session that “was short of throwing chairs ... with the sellers alleging the brokers and buyers had formed a nexus”.

“It remained inconclusive. The sellers stressed on sellers’ bill while major corporate buyers insisted on brokers’ billing under GST. The warring groups did not budge from their earlier stand,” Ramesh Bhojarajan, Chairman, Coonoor Tea Trade Association, told BusinessLine over the phone from Kolkata.

“The Tea Board has therefore decided to take a legal opinion on the issue and then advise us. Until then, the status quo will prevail at the Coonoor Tea Trade Association (CTTA) auction,” Bhojarajan noted. He clarified that the auction centre would conduct the sale on Thursday and Friday on the “existing sellers’ billing pattern”.

Major corporate buyers and exporters had abstained from the weekly auction in the sales held after the rollout of GST.

Bought leaf move

Meanwhile the Bought Leaf Factories have decided not to produce and buy green leaf tea from small growers.

“We have convened a meeting of our members for Thursday to take stock of the situation. We will decide on whether to continue with the closure or otherwise,” said HB Ananthan, President, The Nilgiris Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association.

A cross-section of people that this correspondent spoke to felt that the Tea Board should, as a regulatory body, intervene and resolve the issue without further delay.

H Thiagarajan, President, The Nilgiris Small Tea Growers’ Association, said the delay is causing enormous problems for small growers. “There is a virtual cash crunch among the 65,000 small grower families in the Nilgiris”.