Siliguri: Tea planters in the Terai have demanded that the state government allow them to lease out a portion of their estates for other cash crops.
As of now, a tea estate can use 5 per cent of its land for the purpose of tourism, not for plantation of other crops. In north Bengal, the prices which CTC teas from Dooars and Terai fetch are lower than the teas produced in Assam.
This had made tea planters here to raise the issue of viability and sustainability of tea gardens time and again while demanding interventions from governments so that their costs, particularly the social costs, come down.
Tea gardens were brought under the panchayat about 20 years back but even now, all the social welfare schemes of the state and Centre are yet to reach to the garden population. Our costs are soaring every year due to change in wage rates, electricity tariff and other charges. Reduction in social costs can only help the industry,” said a tea planter based in Jalpaiguri.