The Assam government has earmarked nearly Rs 550 crore for the state’s tea industry, a welcome move as it grapples under a long-drawn financial crisis. Presenting the state budget, Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said that the Assam Tea Industries Special Incentives Scheme will also be strengthened to bring relief to tea workers.
“The potential of tea garden land has been unlocked and shall be used for agriculture and allied activities. Assam Tea Industries Special Incentives Scheme (ATISIS), 2020 will be further strengthened to incentivize the production of orthodox tea and specialty tea in Assam,” Ms Neog said while presenting the Budget for the year 2023-24.
The budget also includes an increase in production subsidy for orthodox, which is tea produced using traditional methods of tea production, and specialty tea to “celebrate 200 years of Assam tea”.
“Production subsidy for orthodox and speciality tea from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kg is already under process. However, celebrating the 200 years of Assam Tea, I am pleased to announce that for the current year of 2023-24 only, an enhanced production subsidy of Rs 12 per kg will be extended,” she added.
Road shows will also be organised across the country to promote Assam Tea as a brand, the Finance Minister said.
“Emphasis will be given on infrastructure development of tea garden labour lines, especially the development of roads. This year, as a special relief, all the arrear electricity dues of tea garden worker families living in the lines will be waived off as a one-time measure by the Government. I will earmark Rs 150 cr for the same,” Ms Neog added. 10,000 houses will also be constructed in the labour lines, she said.
The government will continue supporting Assam Tea Corporation Limited against the payment of outstanding liabilities of interest on provident funds in a phased manner, Assam’s Finance Minister said, adding that Rs 100 crores would be allocated for the same.
The Tea Association of India (TAI) welcomed the Assam budget. TAI branch secretary Dipanjol Deka said in a statement, “Tea Association of India (TAI) hails the Assam budget and lauds the extension of the Assam Agri income tax exemption and the incentives declared under the Assam tea industry special incentive scheme (ATISIS).”