Industry department not spending cess Assam government collects from small tea growers
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, May 11: Small tea growers in Assam, who contribute a major share of the State’s tea production, are lagging far behind in training and tea production techniques compared to their bigger counterparts. The small tea growers’ lack of knowledge in using latest techniques is hampering growth of tea production in the State.
The irony is that the small tea growers are paying cess every year to the Assam government, a part of which is to be used for their training and upgradation. But the State Industry department has failed to do.
Every year, the State government collects cess to the tune of crores of rupees against green tea leaves from small growers, presently at the rate of 25 paise per kg. Earlier it was 20 paise per kg of green tea leaves before Dispur hiked it in 2010.
A portion of the collected cess is released yearly to the Industry department for the small tea growers’ training, welfare and other purposes.
“Of the released amount, a major chunk remains unspent,” sources said, adding, “As a result, the State government’s objective to impart latest skills and techniques to small tea growers in the ever changing competitive market remains unfulfilled so far.”
Sources said Rs 104.65 crore as cess was collected by the State government from small tea growers in the fincial years 2009-10 to 2013-14. “The government collected cess of Rs 12.97 crore in 2009-10, Rs 19.33 crore in 2010-11, Rs 22.66 crore in 2011-12, Rs 23.12 crore in 2012-13 and Rs 26.57 crore in 2013-14.”
“In the last part of fincial year 2010-11, Rs 13.2 crore was released by the government for the training of small tea growers in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Goalpara, gaon, Sonitpur, Karbi Anglong, Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts, but only Rs 1.4 crore was spent for the purpose of small tea growers in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and Goalpara districts. The remaining amount was not spent,” sources added.