TAI stated that the Tea industry in Assam and elsewhere struggles to battle various odds. However, the Cachar region of Assam is battling yet another challenge that comes from the Power supply by APDCL.
The crop outlook for the Tea Industry at this point of the season looks bleak, after the aftermath of prolonged period of lock down. This can be gauged from the fact that the crop loss for the period March to June 2020 in Barak valley is to the tune of approximately 5.5 Mkg. (Total crop of Barak valley was 45.05 MKgs in the year 2019).
“While the industry is struggling and staring at difficult time in terms meeting its statutory obligations, the erratic power supply has made the situation worse for the tea industry in Barak valley. Power constitutes a major expenditure head for production of Made Tea and the expenditure on captive power generation in absence of regular Grid supply costs almost double than regular Grid supply,” Association added.
TAI said that while the power availability in the region has been a nagging problem, a tea estate spent 82 lakh in the year 2019 only for procurement of HSD in absence of regular Grid supply to run its Manufacturing units. The situation has not improved in the current year too. The Tea Estate has experienced 205 and 224 interruptions in the months of May and June 2020 respectively resulting in 177 hours and 127 hours of grid non availability period.
“Erratic Grid supply with frequent interruption causes deterioration of quality of tea manufactured thereby inflicting a loss in revenue in realization of tea prices. Frequent tripping also considerably damage electrical accessories of the machineries reducing its longevity. The closure of Tea Estates during the premium first flush period (due to COVID 19) resulted heavy losses to the tea plantations. The poor power supply has casted an additional financial burden to the Tea Estate posing a threat to the survival of the Tea Estate as the cost of production is increasing substantially”, the association informed.
TAI said that Cachar lying at the extreme Southern most part of Assam lags in communication ease and has faced challenges that are daunting for accessing the simplest of raw materials for production of tea viz. Coal. The industry has to procure this Basic Raw material at exorbitant rates because of innumerable barriers it has to overcome in procuring this commodity.