Tea sector hit by Darjeeling shutdown

June 10th, 2008 - 11:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 10 (IANS) The tea trade in Darjeeling Hills and Dooars was severely hit Tuesday with the collapse of the transport network due to an indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to press its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. “Tea trade is badly hit by the shutdown. Though the party has exempted tea estates from the purview of the agitation, the transport system has virtually collapsed with vehicles keeping off the road. This is affecting the tea industry as a whole,” Aloke Chakraborty, general secretary of the central committee of National Union of Plantation Workers, told IANS.

Work in the tea gardens was, however, “more or less normal”, as the plantation workers - mostly locals - walked down to the estates, Chakraborty said.

But the movement of fertilisers and packaging materials to the gardens and the transportation of the processed tea outside Darjeeling and Dooars have severely suffered due to the GJM shutdown.

“This movement is self-destructive. The GJM should call it off,” said the trade union leader.

McLeod Russell, managing director Aditya Khaitan, told IANS: “This is prime quality time for tea industry. These agitations in the hill station tend to disrupt the working condition of the tea gardens.”

“This is sending wrong signals to the market. It seems we will fail to meet the demands of the market. If this strike continues for long, it will seriously affect the revenues of the companies,” he added.

McLeod Russell has tea gardens in the Dooars region, besides extensive gardens in Assam.

R.K. Ganeriwala, president of Jay Shree Tea and Industries Ltd, said: “This bandh would have negative impact on the industry in the long run. The entire region is dependent on tea and tourism and these are the two sectors, which are badly hit.”

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