Tripura Chief Minister Dr Manik Saha on Sunday said his government has plans to develop the tea industry in the state by setting up an auction centre in Agartala and facilitating exports to neighbouring Bangladesh.
"We shall work towards setting up an auction centre and promoting exports to Bangladesh in a time-bound manner. We have already listed the industries and commerce department as the nodal agency for the purpose," Saha said.
After inaugurating the state's first gas-based tea processing centres at Durgabari tea estate in West Tripura, Manik Saha said his government was trying to revive sick tea gardens and modernize them through the introduction of newer technologies, The Indian Express reported.
Gas-based processing plants help reduce pollution as well as increase production efficiency.
The chief minister also said the soil of Tripura was conducive to producing tea. Talking about tea garden workers, the chief minister said his government was working towards the socio-economic development of tea garden workers.
"They were used as a vote bank all this time. We are now trying to develop their living standards. Our government is working to provide better housing, sanitation, safe drinking water, power, connectivity facilities and social security pension to tea garden workers…" the CM said.
Citing a recent decision to provide two residential land to each of 7,200 tea garden worker families in the state, Saha said his government was practising 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, Sabka Prayas'.
The tea industry in Tripura is over 100 years old with the Hiracherra tea estate in North Tripura district dating back to 1916. At present, the north-eastern state has 14,000 tea workers and 2,800 small tea growers.
It is the fifth-largest tea producer in India with 9-10 lakh kg tea produced annually (roughly 10 per cent of the country's production) across 12,990 hectare. It has 54 tea estates including 12 cooperative-run estates and three public estates. The state has 22 tea factories including 15 private and five cooperative-run ones.
Most of the tea estates produced orthodox tea till 2000 but moved on to CTC in the new millennium. With a little bit of prodding from the Tea Board of India and marketing assistance from the government, many of these gardens are again adopting orthodox tea production.