Staff Reporter

Panel for rubber sector sought

KOCHI: The plantation industry has been struggling to survive during the past nine years and the situation in the State is severe, Association of Planters of Kerala chairman D.B. King has said.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the association, he said 22 tea estates were closed down and many were in deep red.

It is common for any industry to undergo periodic fluctuations in its prospects, mostly in tune with national and international economic situation. In the case of plantations, even the revival of the economy has not helped the industry, Mr. King said.

The importance of the industry lies in its employment potential. The industry employs five million people Out of this, 60 per cent are from the weaker sections of society. Also, plantations help in maintaining ecological balance and agro-climatic conditions, he said.

Considering all these, the industry should be exempted from various laws and levies. It should be exempted from income tax and sales tax, Mr. King said.

The standard of output should also rise substantially, he added. He lauded the government’s initiative in forming a committee to study the plucking level in the tea plantations and called for similar measures in rubber and other crops.