Gurung, the chief executive member of the Gorkha Territorial Administration, convened a meeting with members of the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) and the Indian Tea Association (ITA) wherein he mooted the merger proposal.
Addressing mediapersons after the meeting, Trilok Dewan, Darjeeling MLA and a member of GTA, said, “During the meeting, Gurung said that the DTA and ITA should merge into a single entity to avoid confusion. The earlier system of a single body representing the management is a better option.”
Way back in 1984, the two bodies had merged to form the Darjeeling Planters Association (DPA) and jointly pledged to cater to the management of Darjeeling Tea Estates.
The DPA was later rechristened as the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) in 2000.
However, the DTA got bifurcated again in 2011 with the ITA breaking away.
As many as 66 tea gardens in Darjeeling are currently affiliated to the DTA and another 11 are aligned to the ITA.
“The management welcomes the possibility of the merger of the two associations, as it will help to bring a stronger and unified focus on major issues pertaining to the Darjeeling tea industry,” said Sanjay Bansal of the DTA. However, Surya Prakash of the ITA skirted comments on the matter.
The GTA in Thursday’s meeting also proposed the formation of a Tea Cell under the GTA that will coordinate with the tea gardens and the trade unions to resolve all issues dogging the tea industry. Important issues pertaining to the industry too were discussed.
Dewan said that the tea gardens would hand out written undertakings through the respective associations, saying they would not indulge in any form of adulteration (in the form of selling Illam Tea of Nepal).
“If they are caught in any such act, stringent action will be initiated,” Dewan said.
The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called for a hike in wages of labourers at gardens in the TeraiDooars region during the next wage-revision cycle from April 1, 2014.