Agri Business

Bengal to allow reopening of tea gardens

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on April 09, 2020

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee   -  PTI

Operate with 15% of workforce, CM tells managements

West Bengal will allow reopening of tea gardens and estates with a reduced workforce, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said.

The decision was announced at a meeting with industry associations and trade bodies at the State Secretariat on Thursday. Modalities such as the date of opening and other details are being worked out and a formal notification in this regard will be issued soon.

“Tea estates and gardens can reopen and begin operations, but with 15 per cent of the workforce. Sanitisation processes and other social distancing norms will have to be followed,” Banerjee said.

The Centre has been urging the West Bengal to reopen tea gardens. Banerjee earlier rejected the proposal on the ground that Covid-19 cases were being reported from different districts of north Bengal, where all the tea gardens are located.

In an earlier interaction with BusinessLine, Tea Board Chairman PK Bezbaruah had said the closure of estates had come at the peak of the plucking season of the first flush crop. This is likely to impact output by nearly 10 per cent. Added to this, there is also likely to be a delay in the second flush, which could also impact production.

“So production of tea could be down by around 15 per cent during this year. Lower output could have brought some cheer to tea manufacturers as prices would firm up in a normal year. However,that is unlikely this year as demand in both domestic and international markets is likely to be subdued,” he said.

More relaxations

Meanwhile, the State has also allowed certain relaxation with regard to movement of trucks. According to the Chief Minister, apart from the driver, three people will be allowed in these vehicles. The move is primarily to facilitate loading and unloading operations.

Loading and unloading operations across different terminals and transport depots have been badly hit because of the lockdown and reverse migration. The current relaxation is expected to ease the situation.

West Bengal reported 12 new cases of Covid-19 and no deaths on Thursday. The total active cases in the State now stand at 80, while total death count is five.

Published on April 09, 2020

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