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Plea seeks relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions for tea plantations near urban areas in Assam

Women plucking freshly grown tea leaves in a tea garden inGuwahati. An association of tea planters has requested the Assam government to relax the COVID-19 restrictions for workers of tea estates within a 5 km radius of urban and semi-urban areas.   | Photo Credit: RITU RAJ KONWAR

An association of tea planters has requested the Assam government to relax the COVID-19 restrictions for workers and vehicles of tea estates within a 5 km radius of urban and semi-urban areas.

The government had issued an order on May 12 shutting down government and private offices, religious places and weekly markets in urban and semi-urban areas for 15 days.

Curfew was also imposed for 15 hours a day from 2 p.m. and the odd-even (registration number) vehicle formula applied during the non-curfew hours with certain exemptions.

Agricultural and tea garden activities were allowed to continue with strict observance of COVID-19 appropriate behaviour. But some tea factories and plantations are within the 5 km radius of urban and semi-urban areas, the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) pointed out in a letter to the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) on Friday.

“Due to the nature of the industry, the manufacturing of tea starts from early morning and continues till late night. All persons involved in the manufacturing process do not stay on factory premises. Therefore, persons working in tea factories may require movement from factory to home and vice-versa during curfew hours,” NETA advisor Bidyananda Barkakoty said in the letter to ASDMA’s Chief Executive Officer Gyanendra Tripathi.

He requested the ASDMA to treat tea as an essential commodity because of its properties that help boost immunity and grant permission to green leaf carrying vehicles to ply within the curfew hours up to 8 pm besides exempting these vehicles from the odd-even regulation.

“One of the major challenges of the tea industry is the shortage of workers. Therefore, many tea estates and tea factories bring workers by bus from nearby villages. We have advised those tea estates and tea factories to maintain 50% of seating capacity of a bus as per your order for public transport,” Mr. Barkakoty said.

“More than 50% of green tea leaves are produced by the small tea growers and these green tea leaves are transported to tea factories after harvesting. The green leaf is perishable and it needs to go for processing within a certain period of time from harvesting,” he pointed out.


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:15:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/plea-seeks-relaxation-of-covid-19-restrictions-for-tea-plantations-near-urban-areas-in-assam/article34560790.ece

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