The Gorkhaland agitation is hampering the export of Darjeeling tea and this may result in cancellations of orders from Asia, Europe and North America, according to exporters.
The agitators have refused to allow the dispatch of tea from the gardens though production has been exempted from the shutdown.
The tea gardens will be forced to stop production if the agitation continues for three-four days because there will be little coal or oil left to run the factories as supplies have stopped, and there is little space to store the output. Experts fear the quality of the produce will be affected if stored for a long period.
On top of this, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the movement, has shut down the power generation plants.
“We can go on for three to four days like this, and will not be able to pay the labourers,” SS Bagaria, chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association, told HT.
“Since August 3, the dispatch of tea from the gardens and factories to the airport has stopped. Trucks and vehicles cannot ply because of the bandh. We will lose the deadline and the export contracts. All this is giving a wrong impression to foreign countries.”
Sandip Chakraborty, president, Darjeeling Tea Association, said: “Around 70% of the tea is exported and it really hurts if we lose orders.”
According to the association, the Darjeeling tea industry has taken a hit of about Rs 15 crore and if the strike continues it will result in a loss of more than Rs 2 crore per day. In Kolkata the price of Darjeeling tea, of whose various categories the lowest one costs Rs 350 a kag, is expected to rise by 10%.