Guwahati, May 6 (PTI) Tea production in Assam has declined by 32 million kg due to the lockdown, resulting in a financial loss of over Rs 500 crore, state industries minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said on Wednesday.
The tea sector is the 'biggest industry' in the state, and production was severely hit as the lockdown coincided with the beginning of a new season, he said.
'Tea production at 715.49 million kg in Assam in 2019 was 51.51 per cent of the total crop output in the country.
But due to the lockdown, decline in production is estimated at 32 million kg, amounting to a loss of more than Rs 500 crore,' the minister told reporters here.
Following the guidelines, issued by the Centre for resumption of the economic activity during the third phase of the lockdown, all the 783 big estates and 1.18 lakh small gardens have been reopened, he said.
The state government has allowed 508 units and 296 bought-leaf factories to function, while 7.33 lakh workers are being engaged in the big estates and about 3 lakh labourers started working in the small gardens.
Regular visits are being made by the industries department officers to ensure that planters and workers follow the COVID-19 guidelines in the industrial units, Patowary, who also holds trasport portfolio, said.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has already announced the waiver of the minimum fixed charge for supply of natural gas to the tea gardens.
Auctioning of tea has already resumed in Guwahati and all the tea warehouses have also been opened.
All the 15 gardens and factories of the state-owned Assam Tea Corporation Ltd (ATCL) have been allowed to function in full capacity, Patowary said.
The state government has also ensured that all 16,720 workers and employees of ATCL get full wages and salaries during the lockdown period, he added. PTI DG BDC BDC