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Rs. 15-crore cluster centre to give boost to tea industry in Nilgiris

D. Radhakrishnan
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It will be set up near Mettupalayam in Coimbatore, says Jayalalithaa

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa distributing benefits to small tea growers at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kundah Indco tea factory at Yedakad in the Nilgiris on Friday. —Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa distributing benefits to small tea growers at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kundah Indco tea factory at Yedakad in the Nilgiris on Friday. —Photo: M. Sathyamoorthy

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Friday said a Tea Cluster-Common Facilitation Centre would be set up near Mettupalayam in Coimbatore at an estimated cost of Rs. 15 crore to give a boost to tea industry in the Nilgiris.

Participating in the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Kundah Industrial Cooperative (Indco) Tea Factory at Yedakad about 30 km from here, she said the centre would have facility for storing, blending, testing and marketing.

A new Indco factory would be established at Nanjanad near here at an estimated cost of Rs. 5 crore to cater for the growers.

Listing the steps taken to help small tea growers of the Nilgiris during her tenures, Ms. Jayalalithaa said for the first time in the world ‘Teaserve,’ an auction centre in the government sector, had been opened in Coonoor in October 2003.

Pointing out that the objective was to help the producers realise fair prices, the Chief Minister said she was gratified that over the last ten years it had been doing well. In 2005 a Small Tea Growers Protection Scheme had been introduced and subsidy at the rate of Rs. 4,200 per acre had been disbursed to 50,152 growers.

Considering favourably a demand of tea manufacturers, “I had ordered the reduction of value added tax on processed tea from 4 per cent to one.”

Subsidy had also been provided to upgrade the machinery in the cooperative tea factories in order to improve the quality. In the current tenure, steps had been taken to give an additional amount of Rs. 2 a kg of raw tea leaves to the members of the 15 Indco tea factories. It had benefited 22,000 growers to the tune of Rs. 17.20 crore.

A grant of Rs. 5.46 crore had been released to the Indco factories to modernise their machinery and increase the production capacity. Efforts of the government apart, the Indco factories should evolve new ways to increase their sales.

Pointing out that she has a penchant for anything novel, the Chief Minister referred to the ‘buy two-get one free’ scheme which she had introduced in Co-optex during the current fiscal.

It was a big success and for the first time in its 77 years of existence its retail trade had crossed Rs. 220 crore and created a record.

Drawing a parallel, she said in 2001, her government had introduced the “Ooty Tea” concept and sold the brand through the Public Distribution System. Over the last 12 years, 317 lakh kg of tea had been produced under the scheme and sold for Rs 280 crore. From the profit earned Rs 26 crore had been shared with the Indco members.

Urging the tea growers and producers to help achieve the goals set under the government’s Vision 2023 programme, Ms. Jayalalithaa declared that she was ready to extend all possible assistance to them. They must work hard and be self confident.

Minister for Rural Industries P. Mohan said that Ms. Jayalalithaa had always stood by the small tea growers.

Minister for Environment M.C. Sampath said the aim of the government was that it should come to the forefront and the per capita income should go up.

Industries Commissioner Harmander Singh welcomed the gathering.

Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan and Secretary, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises department K. Dhanavel also spoke. Special Officer, Indcoserve, T. Udhayachandran proposed a vote of thanks.

Ms. Jayalalithaa released a golden jubilee souvenir, launched the sale of new 250 gram pouches of ‘Ooty Tea’ and inaugurated the sale of Ooty Tea through Aavin outlets.

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