Industries, tea gardens in Assam resume operations as lockdown norms relaxed
Industries and tea gardens in Assam which were shut for over a month have started resuming operations after the Centre and state government announced relaxations for the extended lockdown.
Assam industries minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said on Wednesday that 820 industries employing 28,000 workers and 783 big tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small tea gardens have started functioning in the state since Monday.
“Over 800 tea factories are functioning and 10.33 lakh persons engaged in tea gardens and factories have started work. Monitoring is being done to ensure compliance of Covid-19 guidelines,” he said.
The tea industry is the biggest industry in the state. But with lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19 coinciding with the start of the plucking season, the sector was severely hurt.
Assam produced 715.49 million kg of tea in 2019, which was 51.51% of India’s total tea production. But due to the lockdown, the production figure is expected to dip by 32 million kg which translates to losses of more than Rs 500 crore.
With relaxation of lockdown norms tea auction has restarted and warehouses resumed operations.
Patowary said that the state government has engaged the services of Ernst & Young (E&Y) to study the impact of the lockdown on the industrial sector in Assam and suggest a policy framework to attract industries planning to move out of China.
“There are speculations that many American, Japanese, Korean companies are contemplating shifting production facilities from China to India. To woo these companies, the Assam government has taken up the matter with Centre and Japanese and US trade and business organisations to try and attract some of them to Assam. The state has strategic location advantage, vast natural resources, robust industrial infrastructure and reliable connectivity,” said Patowary.
The industries and commerce department of Assam is also in touch with the department of for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) of Government of India and Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) for setting up a Japanese industrial township in Assam to attract investment from Japanese companies.
The minister also said that all government departments have been asked to extend the validity of trade licenses, permits, clearances to industries, shops and business establishments from March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020.