Erratic power supply was posing a “serious challenge” to the tea industry in Assam’s Barak Valley which has reported crop loss to the tune of approximately 5.5 million kg during the period March to June this year, the Tea Association of India (TAI) said.
The crop outlook for the tea industry at this point of the season looks bleak, in the aftermath of prolonged period of lockdown and this can be gauged from the crop loss for the period March to June this year in Barak valley to the tune of approximately 5.5 million kg, TAI Secretary General P K Bhattacharjee said in a statement on Thursday.
The closure of tea estates during the premium first flush period due to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in heavy losses and now poor power supply has cast an additional financial burden, posing a threat to its survival as the cost of production is increasing substantially, he said.
“The industry was struggling and staring at difficult times in terms of meeting its statutory obligations and the erratic power supply has made the situation worse for the tea industry in Barak valley”, Bhattacharjee said.
Power constitutes a major expenditure head for production of tea and the expenditure on captive power generation in absence of regular grid supply costs almost double with this being a nagging problem in the region, he said.
Erratic grid supply with frequent interruption causes deterioration in the quality of tea manufactured, thereby inflicting a loss in revenue in the realisation of tea prices.
Frequent tripping also damages electrical accessories of the machinery reducing its longevity.
Cachar lies at the extreme southernmost part of Assam with communication difficulties and this has made accessing coal for the industry a challenge as the rates of procuring the raw materials are exorbitant, Bhattacharjee said.
The tea estates have apprised the authorities of Assam Power Distribution Company Limited (APDCL) of Barak Valley zone for initiating effective remedial measures.
The Association has also urged the state government to intervene and ensure the availability of grid supply to the tea gardens in Barak valley, Bhattacharjee added.