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Panel stresses need to review Plantation Labour Act

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The Deputy Chairperson, Tea Board, Roshni Sen, interacting with planters in Coonoor on Monday. —
The Deputy Chairperson, Tea Board, Roshni Sen, interacting with planters in Coonoor on Monday. —

Special Correspondent

‘South Indian teas fetching good prices in international market’

Udhagamandalam: The provisions of the Plantation Labour Act, 1951 need to be reviewed as many of them have lost their relevance. This recommendation has been made by the Committee on Competitiveness of the Tea Industry, according to the Deputy Chairperson, Tea Board, Roshni Sen.

Addressing a Commodity Outlook Session, which preceded the 116th annual conference of the United Planters Association of Southern India (UPASI) at Coonoor on Monday, Ms. Sen pointed out that the committee had been constituted to suggest ways and means to make the Indian tea industry globally competitive.

Production margin

The committee had also noted that if the tea plantation industry was to survive and sustain itself, the production margins must improve substantially.

It had also inter alia recommended that tea companies should put aside funds in good years for sustained higher productivity and farm gate margins, all State land laws must be amended to allow greater flexibility in land use, the Tamil Nadu government should speedily resolve the deadlock on the Gudalur Janmam estates case for the benefit of the Industry, VAT duty should be made a uniform one per cent for all South Indian teas in order to regain lost markets abroad, Tea Board should promote South Indian teas separately and quality standards should be formulated quickly and rigorously imposed not only for export teas but for all teas with stringent punitive provisions for non-compliance.

While pointing out that it had also been recommended that publicity and promotion of the health benefits of black tea should be vigorously pursued, she said that its final observation was, “short/medium term movement of tea prices should not distract us from the fundamental concern that over the years India’s competitiveness in tea has been lost because of major structural and socio-economic defects in tea production and marketing.”

Referring to the overall tea scenario, Ms. Sen said that South Indian teas were doing well and also fetching good prices in the international market.

Demand

Stating that focus should be on creating a demand, she said that high priority should be accorded to productivity and quality.

Pointing out that the *. New technologies should be adopted to bring down the cost of production, save energy and time.

She noted with appreciation the functioning of the e-auction system in the Southern auction centres.

Later interacting with the planters, she clarified many points. There were also presentations on rubber, spices and coffee.

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