820 industries, 783 big tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small gardens resume operations in Assam:

Guwahati, May 6: After a month, industries and tea gardens in Assam have started to resume operations following the relaxations announcement made by the government during the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 lockdown.

Around 820 industries employing over 28,000 people and 783 big tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small tea gardens have started functioning in the state.

Assam Industries and Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Wednesday said that, the industry sector of Assam has contributed about 39 percent to state GDP and provide direct employment to approximately 4 lakh people and indirect employment to around 20 lakh people.

“Due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, all industries, tea gardens were shut down and the state has faced a huge loss in revenue collection. But following the center’s directive around 820 industries and 783 big tea gardens and 1.18 lakh small tea gardens have started functioning in the state. 508 tea factories and 296 bought-leaf factories have been allowed to function. 7.33 lakh workers are being engaged in the big tea gardens and about 3 lakh workers are working in the small tea gardens. Regular visits are being made by the department officers for ensuring compliance of COVID-19 guidelines in the industrial units,” Chandra Mohan Patowary said.

The Assam minister also said that the tea industry is the biggest in the state, and being seasonal, the lockdown coincided with the start of the new season and this industry has been hit hard as their major production period has been affected.

“The tea production in India during 2019 was 1389.70 million kg. Tea production in Assam in 2019 was 715.49 million kg, i.e., 51.51 percent of the total tea production in India. But because of the lockdown, the total decline in production of tea in Assam by big tea gardens and small tea gardens is estimated at 32 million kg amounting to a loss of more than Rs 500 crore. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has already announced the waiver of the Minimum Fixed Charge of supply of natural gas to the tea gardens which were closed during the lockdown period,” Patowary said.

He also said that, it is going around that many American, Japanese and Korean companies are contemplating shifting their production facilities from China to India.

“To woo these companies, Assam government has taken up with Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Government of India, Invest India, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), US-India Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce to facilitate and advise those companies to set up their production facilities in Assam as the state has the strategic locational advantage, vast natural resources, robust industrial infrastructure, and reliable connectivity, etc,” the Assam minister said.

Patowary said that the state Industries and Commerce Department is in touch with DPIIT and JETRO for setting up of a Japanese Industrial Township in Assam to attract investment from Japanese industries.