Dispur forms Cabinet panel to see revival possibilities
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, March 14: Sick or tired to death of the long moribund Assam Tea Corporation (ATC), Dispur has formed a Cabinet sub-committee to see if the corporation, now head over heels in debt, is left with any chances of revival. The committee is headed by State Fince Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
The fincial health of the Corporation coming to such a pass came to the fore on the floor of the State Assembly on Wednesday when State Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary was replying to a written question from AGP MLA Phani Bhushan Choudhury.
The reply given to the House by the minister has been revealed that the Corporation owes Rs 191.87 crore to the Provident Fund Establishment alone, besides Rs 34.49 crore to retired employees as gratuity. For the current fincial year, ATC needs Rs 123.87 crore against an estimated income of Rs 60 crore. Such a situation is bound to lead the Corporation to a loss of Rs 63.92 crore. The minister’s reply has made it crystal clear that Dispur is quite uncertain when the State Government will pay the amount. It is also not certain if Dispur can all pay the amount. The minister, however, told the House that at present all labourers and other employees ATC gardens were getting their wages and salaries regularly.
Fincially the Corporation has long been ailing, making loss in every successive year. According to the minister, the Corporation incurred Rs 20.61 crore loss in 2011-12, Rs 19.90 crore in 2012-13, Rs 21.40 crore in 2013-14, Rs 34.24 crore in 2014-15, Rs 55.26 crore in 2015-16, Rs 46.90 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 63.92 crore as being estimated in 2017-18.
The chronic loss making by the Corporation, according to the minister, has led the government to form the Cabinet sub-committee headed by State Fince Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to see if the Corporation can be revived or not.
According to the information given to the House by the minister, ATC was formed on February 9, 1972, and it has 15 tea estates under it at present – distributed both in the Brahmaputra and the Barak valleys. The daily wage of an ATC garden labourer is Rs 115 in the Brahmaputra Valley and Rs 95 in the Barak Valley. It has 15,566 labourers, 611 sub-ordite employees and 453 employees under its 15 gardens in both the valleys.