The government in Assam has decided allow up to five per cent of tea estate land to be used for other purposes.
In an amendment to the Assam Fixation of Ceiling on Land Holding Act, 1956, the state government has decided that five per cent of the land at tea estates can be used for activities like the promotion of eco-friendly tea tourism, the cultivation of agricultural crops, green power and animal husbandry.
An order from the government read, “Provided that in cases where tea plantation is not possible in land allowed to be retained by the tea gardens and lying as fallow and unutilized, such land and hereditaments or any part thereof may be used for the following purposes, promotion of eco-friendly tea tourism; cultivation of agricultural crops which include cash crops, horticultural crops, floriculture, medicinal plants, agar wood, sandal wood and bamboo; animal husbandry and fisheries; green power and non-conventional energy resources; social infrastructure and services which include wellness centres, schools, colleges, universities, medical, nursing, paramedical institutions, cultural and recreational exhibition centres and government offices that could be set up by Tea Garden Authority or a government entity, food processing, blending and packaging units.”
“Provided further that lands meant for the aforementioned purposes shall not exceed 5% of the total garden area,” the ordinance added.
Meanwhile, advisor to North-Eastern Tea Association (NETA), Bidyananda Barkakoty said, “It was our long pending appeal. We welcome this move by the State Government. It will help in the better economic viability of tea gardens.”