Assam government on September 25 announced four schemes with collective investment of Rs 200 crore to boost the tea industry in the state.

State finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the four schemes – interest subvention on working capital loan, Rs 7 per kg subsidy in orthodox tea production, 25 per cent capital subsidy for purchase of machines and three-year agriculture income tax holiday – would boost the state’s biggest organised industry.

“Due to COVID-induced situation, works and productions in the tea gardens had been affected during and after the lockdown. The Assam government is considerate both for the management and the workers and that’s why the schemes were announced,” he told the media.

Explaining the schemes, Sarma said that the government has decided to give a three-year agricultural income tax holiday and three per cent interest subvention on working capital loan with a maximum limit of Rs 20 lakh.

“Assam mainly exports the orthodox tea and the government also given priority on increasing its production. The Assam government would give a subsidy of Rs 7 per kg orthodox tea and with Rs 3 per kg existing subsidy of Tea Board, the total subsidy would be Rs 10 per kg,” he said.

The minister added that the state government owned Assam Tea Corporation has recently announced a puja bonus of 20 per cent for the workers of the tea gardens under the corporation.

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Assam’s Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary earlier said that the tea industry has suffered a loss of Rs 500 crore during the lockdown, induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Assam has around 800 big tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small tea gardens. In 2019, Assam produced 715.49 million kg of tea, which was around 52 per cent of India’s total tea production of 1389.70 million kg. But due to the lockdown, the production figure is expected to dip by 32 million kg which translates to losses of more than Rs 500 crore.

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