Two more Bengal tea gardens to reopen


Kolkata : Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh Thursday announced the reopening of two more tea gardens in West Bengal this month and the launch of a Rs.47.6 billion fund for ailing tea gardens.

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Addressing reporters at the Tea Board office here, he said two closed tea estates – 725-hectare Bharnobari Tea Estate and 368-hectare Red Bank Tea Estate – will reopen on June 29.

"On the same date, the Rs.47.60 billion Special Purpose Tea Fund (SPTF) will be formally launched at Jalpaiguri in north Bengal," he said.

From SPTF, 81 out of 294 operating tea gardens would get first loan. The loan requirement for these 81 gardens is Rs.370 billion. Roughly 50 percent of the fund would be provided to Assam gardens, 25 percent to those in West Bengal and the remaining to Tamil Nadu and Kerala gardens. In Assam SPTF will be launched on June 25.

Ramesh said two more tea gardens in Kalchini and Raimatong of Jalpaiguri district of West Bengal would reopen on July 15.

He said the 462-hectare Chamurchi Tea Estate would be run by a workers' cooperative like the Durgabari estate of Tripura. Tea Board will extend assistance in reopening.

The minister said nine agri-export projects would come up in West Bengal at a total cost of Rs.680 million. Out of this, the ministry of commerce's share is Rs.640 million. He said 95 percent of the money would come from the Agricultural Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).