KOLKATA : The Centre is planning to amend the Tea Act,1953, soon and modify certain provisions to enable takeover of sick and closed gardens. Chairman of the Tea Board of India, Siddharth, said, “The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) is contemplating to amend some provisions of the Tea Act, as they are posing hurdles in acquiring sick and closed tea gardens across the country.
“There is a section for taking over such tea gardens. But, the details of circumstances under which provisions they could be taken over are not detailed. As such, legally in a court of law we are facing problems. The ministry is looking at amending those provisions and enable smooth take overs,” he said, adding, presently there are eight tea gardens which were closed and five of them are in West Bengal.
Following recent deaths in some closed tea gardens in Dooars in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said if the present management could not run the gardens, the state government was willing to acquire them.
State Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick had said the deaths were due to malnutrition as the workers were not receiving wages and could not afford food. Refuting such claims, Siddharth said, “We have examined the situation in those gardens and obtained a report from the district magistrate. The deaths were not due to malnutrition at all but natural, due to old age and ailments.”
He said the Tea Board would meet officials of the West Bengal government within a fortnight to discuss about reviving the closed tea gardens. “We need investors who can take risks and wait for long-term results. We can explore the possibilities of handing over the management of tea gardens to some entrepreneurs. We will be happy if the state government steps in,” Siddharth said.