‘Relaxed norms may boost tea tourism’

West Bengal allows 15% of land in a tea garden to be used for economic activities The tea industry in West Bengal is witnessing a major boost to employment with the State government’s relaxation of norms for use of leasehold land in a tea garden. The move may induce garden owners to promote tourism, horticulture projects and other allied economic activities, said P.K. Bhattacharjee, secretary general, Tea Association of India Well-intentioned act “The calibrated manner in which the State’s land laws have been amended speaks of the government’s well-intentioned acts in this direction,” he said. The West Bengal government recently allowed the tea industry to use 15% of land in a tea garden for other economic activities, including tea tourism and horticulture. However, it bars housing projects. Indian Tea Association (ITA) chairman Vivek Goenka said that the ITA had already identified crops cultivable in West Bengal and the government’s initiative would allow it on a commercial scale. In 2015, the West Bengal Government had amended relevant schedules of the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act to allow tea estates to use leasehold land for horticulture, medicinal plant farming, dairy farms and micro hydel project besides tea tourism projects. However, this had capped the relaxation to certain fixed proportions for various uses at 20 acres. Now, this has been increased to 150 hectares. ITA noted that by not allowing housing activities, the government had communicated its resolve not to disturb the present ecosystem. The government has also assured of a ‘Tea and Tourism Allied Industry Policy 2019’ to complement these initiatives. The tea industry has been plagued by rising costs (around Rs. 185 a kg) and stagnant prices (about Rs. 157.5 per kg in West Bengal). In this scenario, many gardens have begun incurring losses. Productivity and quality too have been an issue, especially in view of the ageing bushes, which many estate owners have failed to rejuvenate, leading to low yields and poor quality.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/relaxed-norms-may-boost-tea-tourism/article29867431.ece

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