Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday attended the ceremonial distribution of financial incentives to around 370 tea gardens under the Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Schemes 2020 at a function held at Janata Bhawan in Guwahati.
An aggregate of ₹64.05 crore were disbursed to the 370 tea gardens under the Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Schemes 2020, originally formulated by the Government of Assam to mitigate the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the tea industry.
Speaking at the event, Mr Sarma said the tea industry was the backbone of the economy of Assam, contributing to nearly 90% of gross export value and on which and providing either direct or indirect employment avenues to more than a million people.
It is due to the overwhelming effect of the tea industry on the economy of Assam that the Government of Assam came up with the Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Schemes to help the sector absorb some of the shocks of the deleterious impact of Covid-19.
CM Sarma said apart from providing interest subvention of 3% on working capital loans of tea gardens, promotion of production of orthodox tea over traditional crush-tear-curl (CTC) tea has also been accorded due attention.
It is with this aim that under Assam Tea Industry Special Incentive Schemes, a subsidy of ₹10 for per kilogram of orthodox and other special varieties of tea have been incorporated, the Chief Minister said.
To mark the 200th anniversary of tea production in the State, an additional ₹2 for per kilogram of orthodox tea has been fixed for the financial year 2023-24, the Chief Minister added.
Moreover, a subsidy of 25% shall be provided by the government to tea gardens to set up units for orthodox tea production, the Chief Minister stated, adding that the government shall also forego agricultural income tax accruing from tea gardens for the next three financial years.
Mr Sarma exuded confidence the Assam tea industry would be able to claim its rightful place in the world and domestic tea market in days. He said the government was taking all measures necessary to make the State's tea industry more resilient than ever before and the industry players must also do the needful for the government efforts to bear fruit.
CM Sarma also spoke the numerous initiatives of the Government of Assam aimed at socio-economic empowerment of the tea tribes of the State.
He said the Government of Assam, under the Chief Minister's Awaas Yojana, would provide a financial support of ₹1.5 lakh each for construction of renovation of 10,000 houses of tea garden labourers located within the tea gardens.
Further, funds have been earmarked for upkeep and maintenance of roads in tea gardens. Smart-meters would soon be installed at quarters and residences of tea garden labourers and their outstanding electricity dues till date would be compensated to the Assam Power Distribution Company Limited by the government, he added.
The establishment of model schools in tea gardens would help usher in an educational revolution among the members of the educationally backward tea tribe communities, he remarked. Around 25 colleges would also come up in tea garden areas, he added.
The appealed to both the tea estate managements and the labourers to remain committed to each other's wellbeing, as both parties are in a symbiotic relationship and adverse impact on one leaves a cascading effect on the other.