AgenciesRepresentative Image.With restrictions and curfew is put in place owing to surge in COVID-19 cases, tea planters sought movement of persons working in tea factories from workplace to home during curfew hours and relaxation for vehicles carrying green tea leafs to factories .
In a letter to Deputy Commissioners of tea producing areas, North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) stated curfew is imposed from 2 PM to 5 AM effective from 13th May, 2021 vide order dtd 12th May 2021 issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) . Industrial units and tea gardens may function subject to observance of COVID appropriate behaviour. Head of the unit/tea garden shall be responsible for ensuring social distancing, mask wearing by workers and staff, sanitization of industrial premises, thermal scanning etc.”
Bidyananda Barkakoty, Adviser, NETA stated, “Most of our tea gardens are in rural areas and hence its functioning should not be a problem. Few tea gardens are within the 5 km radius of municipality areas and therefore we have advised such tea estates to operate from 5 am to 1 pm”.
He added that Tea manufacturing is a continuous process and it is an essential food item. Because of the nature of the industry, the manufacturing of tea starts from early morning and carries on to late night. We hereby request you to allow movement of persons working in tea factories from workplace to home during curfew hours.
NETA added that green leaf is a perishable commodity and it needs to go for processing within certain period of time. Green leaf is carried to tea factories after harvesting in teagardens. “we hereby request you to please grant permission of Green Leaf Carrying Vehicles to ply within the curfew hours – it will be enough if allowed upto 7 pm. It may be noted that though majority of tea factories are in rural areas but some tea factories are within the 5 km radius of municipality areas. We also request for exemption of odd & even vehicle restrictions for green leaf carrying vehicles”.
NETA adviser stated, “ One of the major challenges of tea industry is shortage of workers. Therefore, many tea estates and tea factories bring workers by bus from nearby villages. We have advised those tea estates and tea factories to maintain 50% of seating capacity of bus.”