Kolkata: The Union Commerce Ministry has sought additional financial assistance from the Department of Expenditure to support the Darjeeling tea industry which had suffered huge losses due to the indefinite shutdown in the north Bengal hills and is working out a mechanism for extending the support, an official said.
All plucking and manufacturing activities in the 87 gardens in Darjeeling were suspended for more than three months and about 70 per cent of the annual production was lost during the Darjeeling agitation.
“The industry had to face a lot of losses for no fault of theirs but because of external factors. In this regard, we have received proposals from DTA (Darjeeling Tea Association), ITA (Indian Tea Association), which were collated by the Tea Board and was sent to us.”
“We have sought additional financial assistance from Department of Expenditure for this unforeseen eventuality and we will be working with the department to find out a mechanism by which the Darjeeling industry can be supported,” Union Commerce Ministry, Joint Secretary (Plantations) Santosh Sarangi said while addressing the 134th Annual General Meeting of the Indian Tea Association here on Tuesday evening.
He clarified that the proposed financial assistance was related to a revival package for the rejuvenating and pruning activities that would be required to be carried out in the gardens.
The Ministry asked the Board to do an exercise on the kind of assistance which will be required for revival and rejuvenation of these gardens.
“I can’t give you the details of the mechanism or the quantum because it is a proposal under consideration and we have to work with the Department of Expenditure to work it out. On the final contours of the assistance that can be extended, work is still going on,” he said.
Sarangi said: “This is an unforeseen circumstance, we have to seek additional budget allocation for this. This is under the purview of Department of Expenditure and it is examining that. Only after examining it, they can say whether it is worth supporting or not, what kind of assistance can be given.”