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Tuesday, November 05, 2019

#RedDotChallenge Busting Menstruation Myths

Adolescent girls made aware about menstrual hygiene management in a week-long activity programme by Dibrugarh district administration and UNICEF

28 May 2019

Dibrugarh: In an effort to promote women’s health and break taboos surrounding the subject of menstruation, Dibrugarh district administration, in collaboration with UNICEF, is organizing a week-long activity programme on Menstrual Hygiene Management in various parts of the district, which began from May 21. Various activities are part of the week-long programme, including essay, drawing, quiz competitions, group discussion and awareness meeting and rallies alongside educative sessions, all themed around menstrual hygiene.
In this connection, essay competitions, drama and group discussions were held in Balijan TE, Chabua TE, Jutlibari TE, Bhamun TE and Karangani TE on Sunday with the help of adolescent girls’ club formed by ABITA in tea estates. During these awareness programmes, stress was given on the significance of menstrual hygiene management, especially on cleanliness and hygienic practices. Also, adolescent girls were made aware on how to be punctual in school and maintain hygiene during their menstruation cycles as part of the programme.
Earlier, the #RedDotChallenge on Instagram was taken up by more than 40 adolescent girl participants to bust myths and taboos surrounding menstruation and generate awareness through the social media campaign #ItsTimeForAction, which is also the theme for this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.

Relief items distributed among flood-affected people by Assam Branch Indian Tea Association

This from The Sentinel, Assam on 31 July 2019

DibrugarhAssam Branch Indian Tea Association (ABITA) Zone 1, in collaboration with the district administration, organized a relief camp at Lezai Gaon Panchayat under West Revenue Circle of Dibrugarh district on July 29.
The camp was held in Lezai Higher Secondary School for the residents of Jaguban, Lezai 1 no. Gaon, 2 no. Dewanbari Koibrata Gaon and Singi Bill which had been severely affected by the recent floods.
Nearly 300 households benefited from the relief camp. Rice, dal, mustard oil, salt, biscuits, garments, water bottles, potatoes, onions and other food items to the flood-affected and needy people. The relief materials were donated by the management, staff and workers of Tingri and Dibrugarh circle tea estates, namely Balijan (H), Itakhooli, Hatijan, Bahadur, Keyhung, Jutlibari, Anandabari, Zaloni, Khetojan, Mahakali, Dirial, Rajah Ali, Dikom, Romai, Nahortoli and Sealkotee Tea Estates, as aid for the flood-affected people.
The president of Lezai Gaon Panchayat, ward members and youth of Lezai village provided support in organizing the camp smoothly. Madhurjya Barooah, secretary of ABITA Zone 1, thanked the district administration, Dibrugarh for lending support to the camp. ABITA Dibrugarh circle, in collaboration with the District Police of Dibrugarh, organized a free health check-up camp at Lezai Kalakhowa recently.
TINSUKIA: As an act of social obligation towards society, the Postal Recreation Club and Postal Agents’ Association under Tinsukia division of National Small Savings Agents’ Association, India (NSSAAI) organized a flood relief camp in the marooned Laika village inside the Dibru Saikhowa National Park recently.
The team distributed essential commodities, including medicines, adult and baby food, sanitary napkins, to more than 350 families. Expressing concern over the plight of the villagers as well as livestock, Prithwish Bhattacharjee, president of NSSAAI, said sufficient fodder should be provided for domesticated animals as most of these animals were starving and appealed to all sections of society to donate whatever was possible.
Meanwhile, a socio-cultural organization of Tinsukia, Manikanchan Sanskritic Samaj consisting of 25 members led by former AASU leader and social worker Pulok Chetia and Jyoti Prasad Das, distributed relief materials at Bhalukguri gaon in Amarpur under Sadiya subdivision. The Tinsukia district committee of BJP organized a free medical camp for flood-ravaged people of Khamti Guwali at Nalini TE LP School in association with Guijan Zilla Parishad and management of Nalini TE.

Jutlibari Tea for Sale from Lucerne

Perhaps when I run out, I can order more than the "powder" as I love this tea, from this company in Lucerne

It's been a while

I have been very busy doing other things, including another blog with details of other ancestors from my tree.

But I do want to keep this site up to date, with news on Jutlibari and other tea gardens related to the family - the list is growing.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Tea garden workers protest at Jutlibari - The Sentinel

Tea garden labourers stage protest in Dibrugarh

Fire breaks out at OIL wells near Jutlibari - The Telegraph

Fire breaks out at OIL wells

A fire broke out at Oil India Ltd's two wells near Jutlibari under Duliajan police station in Upper Assam's Dibrugarh district around 11pm on Saturday while thieves were trying to steal oil from the wells.
  • Published 10.09.18
Duliajan: A fire broke out at Oil India Ltd's two wells near Jutlibari under Duliajan police station in Upper Assam's Dibrugarh district around 11pm on Saturday while thieves were trying to steal oil from the wells.
Sources said thieves tried to steal condensed oil from well number 576 by opening a valve. The oil caught fire and also spread to a nearby well.
A bicycle which was being used by the thieves caught fire. Fire tenders from OIL immediately rushed to the site.
The wells are situated near Duliajan MLA Terosh Gowala's residence, a distance of around 300 metres.
Gowala said, "I am aware of the incident. I placed the matter before chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal who immediately spoke to the deputy commissioners of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia. Twelve fire tenders from both the districts succeeded in putting out the fire after seven hours."
Gowala also condemned the authorities of Oil India Ltd for their negligence as there were no security personnel posted at the wells and they had no boundary walls.
The MLA said he was in the process of preparing a report and it would be placed before the Union petroleum ministry at the earliest.
Tengakhat revenue circle officer Ashutosh Deka and officials from OIL have reached the site.

Friday, April 21, 2017

We visit Jutlibari - part 2 the bungalow and lunch

As part of the visit we were also lucky enough to be taken to the bungalow that my great grandfather had eventually built on the site. The original building had been extended, but it was possible to imagine my great grandparents living there.

The family had set out drinks on the lawn and we were able to shelter under the large umbrella to enjoy some beer and nibbles. The photo below shows the garden.

Lunch was served inside where more photos were taken with Mr Chakravaty's wife, younger daughter and father, and the staff who worked in the house.

As we were leaving we drove past the hospital, which reminded me of how my great grandfather had looked after his workers from the beginning.

Not far from the Jutlibari we had been told that the other tea garden was located that my great grandfather was supervisor of. We did not go inside!

We visit Jutlibari - part 1 the factory and garden

It has been several years since I last wrote on this blog. Since the last post both my Australian relatives and, more importantly, me and my family, have visited Jutlibari. After much discussion in previous years we finally decided to visit India in January 2017. This was the trip we should have done while my father was alive, so our trip was in his memory. The visit to the tea garden was one of the highlights!

This photo is the sign as we pulled up to the tea garden. It was difficult to believe, when we saw it, that we were actually here.

My brother and I standing proudly next to another sign.

We were welcomed by Mr Chakravaty, the outgoing Tea Garden Manager who was leaving later that week to take up a position on another garden. In the photo below we are giving Mr Chakravaty copies of the photos we had brought with us. The room we are in would have been where my great grandfather sat.

We were given a tour of factory and had the process explained to us. The photos below are from around the factory; sadly they are not in process order! The beige packets under the sign are packets of tea which we were lucky to receive as presents on our departure.

Some of the photos above include the "sayings" that were displayed around the tea garden. My father would have loved these!

We were also welcomed by Mr Chakravaty's staff, including the replacement manager Mr Hazarika who can be seen on the second photo below.

We all received scarfs as welcome. This is me receiving mine.

We pointed out that the list of tea garden managers was inaccurate as my great grandfather should have been first. We were told that they would have to send our evidence to head office to get the sign changed.

When we arrived it had just started to rain heavily, but before we left it finally stopped which allowed us to take some photos of the tea itself.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Victoria Wood's Nice Cup of Tea

Episode 1 was great last night, with lots of lovely scenic shots of China and India. The former I have visited recently the latter (Assam) I have yet to really visit. The programme itself was also fantastic. Episode 2 on in the UK this evening.

Catch them on iPlayer while you can.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Jutlibari available from Italian website?

From Peck in Milan.

Listed as a flavoured tea, but description is that of coffee. I think there may be something lost in translation!

Still, I like to list all references to Jutlibari tea

Missed Jutlibari news from April 2012

ULFA denies encounter and arrest of their cadre on Jutlibari

The Times of Assam

Health concerns on Tea Estates

The Assam Tribune Online

 Health still a major concern in TEs

Staff correspondent
 DIBRUGARH, Sept 4 – Despite several initiatives by the State government, health conditions in tea estates of Assam have continued to worry the Health department. Health intervention undertaken by Bal Sakha Assam, a social organisation, among adolescent girls in Mohanbari tea estate has exposed deteriorating health conditions among plantation workers and their children.

Sixty per cent of adolescent girls were found underweight. Out of 79 per cent who were found anaemic, 50 per cent of the girls have severe and 29 per cent have mild anaemia. Moreover, 40 per cent have menstrual problems. Infant mortality and maternal mortality rates among tea garden working communities is also one of the highest in the country.
Dr Aditya Chatterjee, Bal Sakha official who organised the health programme among adolescent girls in Mohanbari tea estate with the help of medical experts from Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) and Lahoal PHC on Saturday, said that the girls lacked awareness about basic health.
“Food habits and lifestyle of this hardworking community is a major factor for detriorating health conditions among them,” he expressed.
Following interaction with the adolescent girls, it was also revealed that drinking was too much among the members of the working community in TEs, Chatterjee said. At first, weight and height of each girl were measured to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) of every adolescent girl. The blood group test and haemoglobin test were conducted by lab technicians of Lahoal PHC.
After the tests, one-to-one interaction and health check-up were carried out by Dr Sudhir Bagrodia, child specialists Dr Tulika Goswami Mahanta of community medicine, AMCH and Dr Mukesh Fogla, gynaecologist of Shristi Hospital. The management officials of Mohanbari tea estate and hospital staff of the tea garden and ASHA workers of the area also took part in the programme.
Bal Sakha is also planning to provide free treatment of eye problems to any adolescent girl through KK Saharia Eye Hospital, Dibrugarh. Dr Chatterjee said that a health card would be issued to individuals with eye problems to avail the free treatment. Dr Aditya asked the girls to build pressure on their mother to leave chewing of tobacco and chulai.
Dr Tulika demonstrated how to wash hands and told the gathering about how to check diarrhoea.
It needs to be mentioned here that the communication strategies of the health sector is hardly a success in tea gardens. Janani Suraksha Yojana, Mamata, Mamoni and other health projects of the State government have almost failed in its objective.

Migration in Assam on the decline

The Hindu

September 10, 2012

Interview with Tarun Gogoi
The Assam Chief Minister spoke to Siddharth Varadarajan, Editor of The Hindu, at his office in Dispur on Saturday about the revival of the ‘anti foreigner issue’ in Assamese politics in the wake of the recent clashes between Bodo and Muslim groups in Kokrajhar that turned lakhs of villagers into refugees. Excerpts:
Six weeks after the first killings in Kokrajhar, tens of thousands of displaced persons remain in relief camps but the fear of renewed violence appears to have subsided. Instead, there is talk of a revival of the so-called “anti-foreigner” agitation in the rest of Assam. As Chief Minister, how do you assess the possibility of the revival of this agitation. Is this something that worries you?
They are trying to. I do feel they are trying to do. But I have my doubt. It is not easy to do. It is not easy to revive the sentiment …
But the recent bandh was quite successful.
Any bandh in Assam is successful! If anybody gives a bandh [call], it will be 100 per cent successful. The success of a bandh is not a yardstick of success or mass support… Anybody, a small group or even if a community gives a bandh call where other communities are not involved, there also they observe the bandh.
When you say “they,” who do you feel is behind the attempt to raise the “foreigners” issue again? Is it mostly the Asom Gana Parishad? Or the Bharatiya Janata Party?
The BJP is number one.... But we will also expose them. [We will ask] what you did when you were in power? How many foreigners did you detect and act against? Now just because elections are approaching in 2014, they are making this an issue.
What is the Assam government’s own information on the number of non-citizens living and working in the State? Have you done any internal study about migration, say over the past five years? Has there been any significant rise in the number of undocumented migrants from Bangladesh?
I have all along been saying that migration is on the decline. Where does migration take place? Where there is ample job opportunity, where there is land that is available. Today, land availability is not there. Earlier, why did they come? Today, [that is] why they do not come? Now migration has been there since the British came. Migrations here started during the development of the tea, coal, oil industries in Assam. Biharis and other groups came. Then to construct railway line who came? The workers were Biharis, in clerical jobs there were Bengalis. Then again during British times, more Bengalis came in because there was a push to grow more food.
Now population growth in Assam according to the 2001 Census was less than the national average. Yes, the Muslim population has risen, there is no doubt. Just as even in the tea garden areas, population has risen. This is because of illiteracy. Even in the tribal communities. Illiteracy is the number one cause of higher population growth rates. Now, when the AGP was in power and they had a chance to prove they were different. They could have registered cases [against foreigners living here]. Why did they not do it? In the case of voters list A,B,C, D, so many lists were made to exclude the foreigners.... The Election Commission also tried. How much could they do?
I suppose so far it has proved difficult to disentangle citizens from migrants.
See the number of cases. Three lakh cases are pending. Not that they have all been identified as foreigners… Many of the people they are talking about, they are Assamese, they speak Assamese. And “migration” has become a convenient issue for someone to raise for political ends.
When one of the Bodo leaders was arrested recently [after the Kokrajhar violence], he admitted, ‘Why should I indulge in attacking the Muslims when I myself have engaged them in my business.’ The same thing is true elsewhere in Bodoland also. All development activities, construction, you will find migrants.
Now, in Guwahati there has been migration. To construct your house, to buy chicken, you are dealing with migrants. Now they are all foreigners and they are engaging them! Those who are agitating on this issue, whether AGP or BJP leaders, their pandals, their houses were also constructed by them … In the peak [of the anti-foreigners agitation], I myself saw the AGP building was constructed by them, those who they allege are illegal migrants. We do not say [this]. The politics they are doing is wrong. They say that Tarun Gogoi is giving protection. But [the Muslims] have not voted me for last two elections…
How worried are you about the growth of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) of Badruddin Ajmal among Muslim voters in Assam?
There is a wrong perception that Muslims always vote for the Congress. They never voted more than 50 per cent. Out of 26 [‘Muslim dominated’ seats in an Assembly of 126], the maximum Hiteswar Saikia got was 15 … Second highest I got that time they were with me in 2001. I won 13 of the seats; the other 13 were individuals with the Samjwawadi Party, independents, etc.
The AIUDF has brought all these individuals on one platform. In 1996, we got 9, and 11 of those seats were won by the AGP. Where is the question of Muslims all along being with the Congress? But [the Opposition] goes on blaming the Congress. I am not worried. The same accusation [of bias] is made against me by some Muslims.
Now just because I am Hindu does that mean I should play Hindu politics? As far I am concerned, if Hindus are also accusing me of ‘vote bank politics’ and Muslims are accusing of me playing the ‘Hindu card,’ this means that I am balanced…
Some of your critics have said the requirement of proof of land documentation for rehabilitation of the inmates of refugees from the Kokrajhar violence is unfair.
It is the first stage. If he has land, he had a house, he had properties, these make immediate rehabilitation easier. Now 2.40 lakh people have already returned to their homes. Others are also returning... But one problem the government is facing is you cannot rehabilitate people back in forest areas... A good percentage of [the victims of the violence] were living there.
Why did the Army take so long to deploy in Kokrajhar after the violence started and you asked for assistance?
It took very long, five days. All kinds of procedural problems were there. The Defence Secretary told us he did not have the authority. So I myself had to speak to the Defence Minister and then the Army came out.
But you feel the situation there is under control now?
Yes, now it is controlled.
We keep hearing there are a lot of arms there….
Arms are there … Arms are there with every insurgent group. Whether ULFA, the… KLO [Kamtapur Liberation Organisation]. Even with the ceasefire groups, there are anti-talk [factions]. … though we have recovered 80 per cent, their strength is reduced by 80 per cent. [But] they cannot cause damage, as much damage.


Tea garden manager shot at in Assam

Business Standard

Press Trust of India
Tinsukia, September 17, 2012

A tea garden manager was shot at and injured by two identified gunmen in Upper Assam's Tinsukia district today.

The two assailants came on a motor-cycle and shot at the manager of Saraswati Tea Estate as he was going to the garden at Talap, official sources said.

The manager, identified as Chabi Das Gupta, was injured in the left hand and was admitted to the Doomadooma Civil Hospital, the sources said.

Natural gas should be supplied as part of pollution measures

Supply natural gas to all tea factories in 'No Development Zone': APCB to Assam Gas
Bikash Singh, ET Bureau Oct 6, 2012, 06.57PM IST

The Economic Times

Guwahati: Assam Pollution Control Board (APCB), has directed the Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) to arrange for supply of natural gas to all tea factories located within 'No Development Zone (NDZ)' as well as in the range of 500 meters from the co-ordinates of NDZ in the vicinity of Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site on top priority basis within next month.

This directive has been issued for compliance with the judgment of National Green Tribunal.
In the judgment it was stated that all the twenty two tea processing units located within NDZ have installed boilers for which, coal, oil, wood is the main feed stock and they have not installed any pollution control devices.

 The State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) and other authorities are directed to ensure that no tea processing units having boiler using fossil fuel operates within the NDZ and take immediate steps to stop their operation within November 6 2012. The three tea leaf processing units located within 500m of the outer periphery of NDZ should be allowed to operate only if necessary pollution control measures as may be stipulated by the SPCB are adhered to by those units. Further, all the tea processing units must provide acoustical enclosures in their electrical generators for providing alternative electricity.

In compliance with the directive of the National Green Tribunal, the Pollution Control Board, Assam, published a notification dated 27/09/2012 directing all tea factories covered by the Judgment to switchover to alternative source of energy within the stipulated time or else stop their operation.

"Natural gas is considered as an eco-friendly fuel. We earnestly request the AGCL and the State Government to take immediate steps so that the concerned tea factories are supplied with natural gas within the stipulated time", said Rajib Barooah, Chairman, Assam Tea Planters' Association (ATPA).

"We are very much worried because it encompasses 22 tea factories manufacturing 22 million kgs of tea annually involving the fate of more than 40,000 workers and more than 3,000 small tea growers are dependent on these tea factories by way of supplying green leaf", said Bidyananda Barkakoty, Chairman, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

Drinking water schemes for tea workers to be subsidised

Jagran Post
26 September 2012

Kolkata: To secure better working conditions for plantation workers, the Tea Board has approved a proposal to provide subsidies for drinking water schemes and rainwater harvesting projects.
At its 220th board meeting held on Tuesday, the Board, which functions under the Union Ministry of Commerce, granted 40 per cent subsidy on capital investment for piped and metered drinking water schemes and 70 per cent subsidy for rainwater harvesting projects and storage tanks.
A pilot project for supply of filtered drinking water to individual households of tea garden workers in Sonitpur district of Assam has also been approved, a communique from the statutory body said.
In order to encourage overseas buyers to use registered marks for teas of Indian origin and also to popularise these logos among consumers abroad, the board has decided to waive off a part of user fees for India Tea, Darjeeling, Assam, Nilgiri and other such logos.
Tea Board chairman M G V K Bhanu said, "All companies using our logos should be made to conform to strict quality standards. We are working towards ensuring strict compliance of these logos so that buyers overseas can distinguish our logos as the hallmark of quality Indian tea".
The board also approved proposals to provide better academic opportunities to the children of tea garden workers in the form of educational stipends, book grants, coaching and hostel fees for entry at IIT/IIM/Civil Services, provision of bicycles for girl students attending higher secondary schools, the communique added.

Extortion in Assam

Extortionist Assam, Naga ultras target tea growers 
Sunday, 30 September 2012 19:30
Anup Sharma| Guwahati 

Militant outfits of Assam and Nagaland have once again revived their old modus operandi of demanding extortions. 

While small tea growers in Upper Assam in particular have been receiving extortion letters as well as calls frequently, the anti-talk factions of the Ulfa and NSCN(IM) are targeting politicians also. The September 23 bomb blast in tea and oil-rich Sivsagar district is being seen as an attempt to threaten the tea growers to fall in line.

The increase in number of extortion threats has led the All Assam Small Tea Growers’ Association (AASTGA) to demand the State Government for protection.

“On September 13 and 14, one of our members received an extortion demand in the name of anti-talk faction of the Ulfa,” said an office-bearer of the AASTGA on condition of anonymity.

“Another member of our organisation from Golaghat district received an extortion letter demanding Rs 10 lakh from a Nagaland-based militant outfit. The small tea growers of Golaghat have already been suffering due to inter-State boundary problems between Assam and Nagaland - Naga miscreants often enter into the tea gardens located close to border and destroy the tea plantation saying that the area belongs to them. The problem of extortion will dishearten the youth further who had taken up tea cultivation as their profession,” said the AASTGA member.

AASTGA has also said that even the tea estate owners in Tinsukia district often get extortion threats from the Nagaland-based NSCN(IM).

Indigenous planters have ushered in a new revolution by engaging in tea growing sector. Small tea growers in Assam are providing employment to over 15 lakh people. The State accounts for 13 per cent of the world’s total tea production and around 800 tea gardens in Assam produce 51 per cent of India’s annual tea production.

Last year, the State had produced 508.74 million kg of tea and approximately 30 per cent of that was from the 70,000 small tea growers (having only 10 to 12 hectares of land). The sector is very important for a State like Assam, where unemployment is a big problem.

Confirming the developments, Assam’s IGP (law and order) LR Bishnoi said, “We have received information by the small tea growers in some Upper Assam districts about extortion demands. Security has been provided to the particular growers depending on the requirement and our police force is working on how to stop these extortions by the outfits.”

The police have also succeeded in preventing extortion in some areas by arresting the culprits, he told The Pioneer.

But the tea growers are not alone in bearing the brunt. Even the ruling party’s legislators are being targeted. Recently, Debabrata Saikia, a Congress legislator and son of former Assam Chief Minister Hiteswar Saikia, was served with a demand note of Rs 30 lakh.

Although during the initial years, the Ulfa was relatively peaceful and maintained a Robinhood image - punishing drug peddlers and corrupt officials - the outfit stepped up its violence and extortion after the 1983 Assembly polls in Assam. In May 1985, it looted a bank in Guwahati, killing its manager. Similarly in 1986, the outfit looted another bank at Namrup in Dibrugarh district. The outfit also carried out its first political murder, gunning down lawyer Kalipada Sen, one of the founders of the United Minorities Front of Assam (UMFA) in 1986.

Tea shortage and price increases

Tea prices set to rise on supply woes
Santanu Sanyal

 Kolkata, Oct 9: 
If the present situation is any indication, the outlook for tea globally does not appear to be terribly exciting.
The shortfall in production in Kenya, Sri Lanka and India at present exceed 43 m kgs compared to the previous year, according to  J Thomas & Company Private Ltd, the world’s largest tea auctioneers.  
The adverse weather conditions across the globe have affected the supply of tea in the world market. With the exception of China, which is the largest producer of green tea and growing crop exponentially, extreme and erratic weather has affected production in Asia and Africa.

Green leaf crop
Climatic conditions and pest attacks, particularly in North India, have ensured a deficit of 15.4 m kgs till end July, and 21 m kgs all India. While August crop in India is likely to show a small surplus, September harvest in North India is expected to be well below that of last year. The deficit in crop, therefore, is expected to get even wider by end October. Current green leaf prices are on their way up which would signal the hardening of prices at the bottom of the market, as well as a shortage of green leaf availability.

Liquoring Assams continue to hold levels in spite of normal arrivals in auction centres at present. With increased purchasing power and discerning tastes, the consumer is willing and able to pay significant premiums for good quality. Medium Assams and Dooars are, at present, irregularly easing in value, but overall averages continue to be well above last year. Demand for these categories is also expected to increase as the supply line gets squeezed.

The supply of quality Assam teas for the rest of the year will be limited as the production season gradually draws to a close. In North India, factories close down by end of December as the cold weather inhibits leaf growth, and resume operations only towards end March.

Low stocks
Most upcountry markets are low on stock and the usual winter stock buying will commence shortly. With domestic consumption growing at over 2.5 per cent annually, an additional 20 m kgs of tea would be required, further accentuating the supply shortfall.

Crop shortages traditionally impact year end prices the most. Already the year to date North India auction average is up by Rs 25 over the previous season. Continuing shortfall in production, increased demand and low stocks at buyer’s destinations all indicate that tea prices are clearly poised for a further strengthening. In spite of this, tea prices, per se, continue to remain below the commodity and inflation index.

Drop in production and increased costs have negated price increases for producers. Recent wage revisions and sharp hikes in input costs like fertiliser and fuel have added to the burden of the planter, which even the buoyant prices, have not managed to mitigate.

Pollution measures to help Kaziranga National Park

Tea factories in 'No Development Zones' to go green in Assam Supratim Dey / Kolkata/ Guwahati Oct 09, 2012, 00:21 IST
 Business Standard

 All tea factories in Assam which are situated within ‘No Development Zones’ (NDZ) as well as in the range of 500 metres from the coordinates of NDZs will soon have to go green or else will face closures. The Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) has asked these factories to use natural gas as fuel instead of burning fossil fuels. Consequently, the PCBA has directed the Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL) to arrange supply of natural gas to these tea factories on priority basis within November 6.

This directive of PCBA is in compliance with the judgement of National Green Tribunal, dated September 7, 2012, which asked the former to ensure that no tea processing unit burn fossil fuel to run factories within NDZ and take immediate steps to stop their operations. The judgment was aimed at protecting the ecology in Kaziranga National Park and in its vicinity, which is highly eco-sensitive.

There are at least 22 tea processing units, in addition to 64 other factories, which have been affected by the judgment of the National Green Tribunal. To switch to natural gas as fuel, the tea factories will be required to make investment of Rs. 15 to 30 lakh, depending of the size and capacity of the factory.
“We are very much worried because it encompasses 22 tea factories manufacturing 22 million kgs of tea annually involving the fate of more than 40,000 workers and more than 3,000 small tea growers are dependent on these tea factories by way of supplying green leaf”, said Bidyananda Barkakoty, chairman of North Eastern Tea Association (NETA).

"The tea factories use coal normally in their boilers. The sulphur content of such coal is very high and the air pollution therefrom could pose a great threat to environment,” observed the Tribunal.

The focal point of the judgement a notification dated way back in 1996 of the Union ministry of environment and forests declaring an area of 15 km around Numaligarh Refinery as a “No Development Zone”. This notification has been in disuse since inception and instead a number of industrial undertakings, infrastructural facilities, townships etc. have all along come up in the area with the express approval of the concerned authorities of both the central and state governments.

However, the tea industry as welcomed the directive of PCBA and urged AGCL to take immediate steps to supply natural gas to these factories.

“We earnestly request the AGCL and the state government to take immediate steps so that the concerned tea factories are supplied with natural gas within the stipulated time”, said Rajib Barooah, chairman of Assam Tea Planters’ Association (ATPA).

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Tea Cheers

The Indian Express

Express Features Service: Wed Feb 15 2012, 01:46 hrs

Recently, tea sommelier Snigdha Manchanda Binjola struck a chord with shoppers at Godrej Nature's Basket Aundh as she conducted a High Tea Appreciation Workshop. Participants tasted tea – from green tea, golden tea, white tea, flowering tea to classic Darjeeling and Assam tea – paired with dark chocolates and cookies.
Seasoned Music
The memorabilia-laden interiors of Hard Rock Cafe will resonate with the astute voice of singer Gary Lawyer on February 16. The veteran performer will offer his trademark mix of pop, jazz, rock, country or folk in the evening.
Art with a heart
This one promises to be a heavyweight of an art exhibition. Artists Lalitha Lajmi, Madhuri Bhaduri, Buwa Shete, Shrikant Kadam, Samir Mondal, Gurcharan Singh, Datta Bansode, Ramesh Gorjala, Babu Xavier, Nishant Dange, Pradeep Mishra, Jagganath Paul and others have come together for an art-cum-charity event called 'The Artist's Brush', to be held from February 16 to 19 at Patch of Blue in Mundhwa. A by-invitation-only preview of the collection will be held today at the venue. The Lila Poonawalla Foundation will receive 25 per cent of all sale proceeds.

Moves to end gender discrimination

The Hindu (visit the actual site for a good photo)

 Gardens of Disparit,y 21 Feb 2012

Aarti Dhar

Tea estate managements in Assam collaborate with the UN to promote gender equality. Child marriage is common among the socially excluded tea estate communities including ex-tea estate communities.
Winds of change are sweeping the rather isolated but self-contained labour communities within the tea gardens in Assam. For the first time, the tea estate managements have joined hands with the UNICEF to address issues of gender discrimination including child marriage and promoting the rights of the child.
“Child marriage often results in girls leaving schools, it impacts their health and early motherhood results in anaemia as the body is not mature enough to deal with marriage and motherhood,” Jenema Patia, community mobiliser of Muskaan Girls Club in Namroop Tea Estate. With a membership of 60 adolescent girls, the Club is hugely popular. “We come here every Sunday to discuss our issues including child marriage and try to find solutions and convince elders in the community that child marriage is not good for girls,” she adds.
This group saved a 17- year-old girl who was one of their members, from being thrown out from her house by her parents after she was spotted by her brother talking to a boy. The brother threatened to report the incident at home, and fearing admonition from the family, the girl spent the night alone in a tea garden. When she was brought home the next morning, the word spread like wild fire that she had eloped with the man. “The girl tried her best to explain the situation but the parents would just not believe her and wanted her out from the house for bringing a bad name to the family. It was because of our intervention that she is still at home and now wants to enrol in a school,” Jenema explained.
Tea cultivation is a predominant occupation in Assam and Dibrugarh district accounts for nearly 55 per cent of the tea estates in the State. Most of the workers are descendants of 19th and 20th century tribal migrants from Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal who live in well demarcated labour lines within the estates as closed communities. Even after retirement from active employment, they continue to live close to their labour lines and follow the same customs and traditions as the rest of the community.
While Dibrugarh has a lower prevalence of child marriage compared to the State as a whole, the practice has been observed to be commonly adopted by the socially excluded tea estate communities including ex-tea estate communities. A study conducted by the Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association (ABITA) in 2006 across 50 tea estates indicated that one fourth of the total respondents felt it was appropriate for girls to marry between the ages of 14 to 18 years. Besides generic factors which contribute to child marriage across the country, lack of education facilities (beyond primary schooling provided by the managements), availability of employment opportunities at an early age (women could get employed as early as 10 years for plucking of tea leaves and boys at 15 years) and the common practice of elopement among the young boys and girls were also cited as the reasons for early marriage.
In 2006, gaining access to communities living inside the tea estates was a major challenge and it could be obtained through ABITA. The UNICEF adopted a two pronged strategy with ABITA and set up the Adolescent Girls Clubs to create an atmosphere of openness where parents and the girls themselves were comfortable in discussing their issues with their peers. One of the key issues during meetings is child marriage and possible solutions to prevent it. There have been instances where club members who have had specific information on child marriage taking place in the community have successfully counselled family members against it. Between 2008 and 2010, 144 child marriage cases were reported by the Adolescent Girls Clubs in Dibrugarh and the members played an important role in preventing around 12 marriages by counselling. “The numbers may not be high but this is just a beginning of the process but the number could have been much more than 144,” Vedprakash Gautam, Child Protection Officer, Assam Field Office, UNICEF said.
“The tea estates management have also introduced changes in their practice and we now no longer extend loans to families where girls are married early,” Sandeep Ghosh, secretary of ABITA said. But this is always not successful, as the families often get loans from banks or can approach money-lenders that often add to their financial burden. It was through the Girls Club that a case of sexual abuse was also brought to the notice wherein a young girl was being sexually assaulted by her uncle with whom she was living. Once it became public, the girl was sent back to her mother. While no action has been taken on the erring uncle so far UNICEF hopes that ABITA would proactively take up the matter so that it is a deterrent, Mr Gautam said. In addition to AGCs, UNICEF also runs Young Child Survival Programme for mother and child health, hand wash programme for better hygiene and sanitation and several nutrition-based programmes in these tea estates.

Try tea tycoons for defence leaks: Court

The Times of India

TNN Feb 20, 2012, 05.08AM IST

NEW DELHI: A special CBI court has paved the way for commencement of trial against the owners of the world's first tea plantation company - K K Jajodia and his son Aditya Jajodia -for allegedly dispatching documents pertaining to security of the nation to two European countries.
The Jajodias are founder members of Assam Company Ltd (ACL), the flagship company of Duncan Macneill Group, established in 1839 by a deed of British Parliament. It was the first tea plantation company in the world and was awarded a royal charter by Queen Victoria in 1845.

On February 13, the court of special CBI judge Pradeep Chaddha ordered framing of charges against the duo in a 25-year-old case where they were booked along with senior government officials for allegedly leaking and dispatching a report of the defence ministry. The report reportedly contained details of equipment including radar and 'flycatchers' for detection and tracking of low-flying enemy aircraft.
"On face of it, it would indicate that both father and son were engaged in dispatching/selling documents pertaining to security of the nation," said Judge Chaddha. He said he found sufficient prima facie evidence against the duo to frame charges under criminal conspiracy and a few sections of Official Secrets Act.
The court has also framed charges against N W Nerukar, then advisor in the department of electronics, and against Brigadier R S Deol, who served in the directorate of weapons and equipment, Army Headquarters, between March 1986 and March 1988.
As per the CBI, on April 13, 1987, acting on a tip-off, senior CBI officials picked up two couriers from a courier company at Barakhamba road. The first packet was addressed to one Marc De Saint Dennis of Paris and contained a photocopy of "User Evaluation Trial Report on RATAC-S Battlefield Surveillance Rader (BFSR) phase-I". The second cover was addressed to Mr J W H Weavers, Netherlands, and contained typed draft in 13 pages containing details of radar, flycatcher and other arms and ammunition. Following this interception, the CBI teams raided Jajodia's Vasant Vihar residence and allegedly found more documents pertaining to details of utility helicopters required by the army from K K Jajodia's bedroom.
"Seizure of further documents from the house of Jajodias raises suspicion that they were involved in the peddling of secrets. Had nothing been recovered from their residence probably opinion of the court would have been different but further recovery from the residence clinches the issue for the time being and it seems that they were indeed involved with leakage of defence secrets," said Judge Chaddha, who has now put the case for February 23.

Model farms set up to develop standard package for organic tea

Tea needs national drink status to survive

Rahul Karmakar, Hindustan Times
Guwahati, February 26, 2012

All is not well with the tea industry. The reasons vary from shortage of labour, lack of mechanisation and market-induced losses leading to closure of several estates.

Three major tea organisations in an SOS to the Parliament Standing Committee on Commerce on February 26 sought rejuvenation of the industry. They have accordingly suggested auction reforms and release of subsidies on time besides giving tea the ‘national drink’ status.
These three organizations are Assam Tea Planters’ Association, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad.
“The 1999-2007 phase was harrowing for the tea industry leading to losses across the country and closure of several estates. The situation improved in 2008 but the 2011-12 fiscal saw prices dipping at the auctions. If that weren’t bad enough, cost of production spiraled owing to key inputs such as fertilizers, coal, gas, electricity, etc. becoming more expensive,” NETA president Bidyananda Barkakoty told HT.
The joint forum of the three tea organizations underscored the need for a robust electronic auction system following assessment by regulatory authorities. They also pointed out that delay in releasing subsidies announced by the government and Tea Board from time to time often negates the purpose.
“In Assam, the industry has overcome many crises in the last 180 years. But we are not equipped to overcome the crisis that we have already started facing – shortage of labour. We need a special project on mechanisation for developing user-friendly, economical machineries for harvesting, pruning and other activities,” Barkakoty said.
Other requirements to save the industry included branding and export promotion, value-addition on promotion of Indian brands, improving pace of tea plantation, opening of ‘chai bars’ across India to promote tea drinking and extending transport subsidy scheme to the industry.
“The elevation of tea as a national drink will go a long way in the industry getting the attention it deserves by virtue of being India’s most popular beverage,” an industry spokesperson said.

Small tea growers for easier factory norms

The Assam Tribune Online

Staff Reporter
 GUWAHATI, Feb 28 – The All Assam Tea Factory Demand Committee has pleaded for making easier the Tea Board norms for setting up tea factories for the small tea growers of the State.

In their memorandum to the Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, which left for New Delhi today after a four-day visit to the NE region, the Demand Committee suggested that licences should be issued to the small tea growers having their sufficient own green leaf production.
Self-help group is not the only way to accommodate excess amount of green leaves produced by the growers, the committee said. Establishment of suitable centre to train up the growers on production of quality green leaf and processing of quality made tea have also been pleaded by the committee.
The committee argued that the over 80,000 small tea growers of the State produce 716 million kgs of green leaves annually making a contribution of 30 per cent to the total quantity of tea produced in the State. But, the small tea growers do not have their own processing units for manufacturing made tea.
As a result, small tea growers for the last two decades have depended either on the estate factories or on the bought-tea-leaf factories, which could not fetch the right price in the market.
To safeguard their interest, some enterprising small tea growers are prepared to set up tea factories of their own. It is learnt that more than 18 such entrepreneurs have submitted application along with all necessary documents cleared from various State departments to the Tea Board, but to no avail.
It has resented the Government of Assam’s 2008 advice to the Tea Board for not to issue any more licence to for any fresh tea factories in the State. The State Government’s 2008 suggestion was based on the belief that excess amount of green leaf would require feed excess processing facilities. This would result in coarse plucking.
But this concept was not correct, said the committee. It argued that lakh kilograms of green leaves were dumped by the small tea growers on the roads during the peak season of 2011. Moreover, bought-leaf-factories and big estate factories were allowed to enhance their manufacturing capacities by manifolds during this period, argued the Committee.

Assam Tea producers cry for survival

IBN Live
PTI | 05:02 PM,Feb 26,2012 Guwahati, Feb 26 (PTI) Three Assam tea producers' Associations have submitted a memorandum to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce urging it to take immediate measures to ensure the survival of Assam's tea industry. A joint forum of Assam Tea Planters' Association (ATPA), North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) and Bharatiya Cha Parishad (BCP) pointed out that the industry was passing through a period of stagnancy. Stating these, NETA Chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty said here today that the average price of CTC tea in Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) from April 1, 2011 to January 31 2012 was lower by Rs 4.41 compared to that of the same period in 2010-11. Rise in cost of key inputs such as fertilizers, coal, fuel, gas and electricity have made the task of containing the cost of production difficult. "If logical steps are not taken immediately to address policy bottlenecks in the primary markets/auctions, there is every possibility that soon the industry will be gasping for survival," he said. The Planters' Associations have also called for immediate auction reforms and urged for a robust electronic auction for fair price. "Unlike other tea growing areas/states, tea is a major industry of Assam and therefore sustained viability of the tea industry is vital for the local economy," he added.