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Bengal plants tea in Purulia's Ayodhya Hills

Operated by self-help groups, gardens to produce CTC tea in 5-6 years

By Abhijeet Chatterjee in Purulia

  • Published 5.01.19, 1:30 AM
  • Updated 5.01.19, 1:30 AM
Tea saplings in the Ayodhya Hills.
Tea saplings in the Ayodhya Hills. (Biswanath Roy)

The Bengal government plans to set up tea gardens at Ayodhya Hills in Purulia and produce crush-tear-curl (CTC) tea in the next five to six years.

The panchayat and rural development department has given 16,000 tea saplings procured from Darjeeling and Assam to the Purulia authorities for plantation under the 100-day job scheme.

“We have taken up the initiative to set up tea gardens in Ayodhya Hills following instruction of chief minister Mamata Banerjee with an aim to generate livelihood of the local people. The tea gardens will be operated by self-help groups. The government will support them with all necessary help once it is operational,” said Shyamal Santra, junior panchayat and rural development minister.

In Purulia the Ayodhya gram panchayat has planted the tea saplings on 20-acre land located on the slope of Ayodhya Hills under the 100-day job guarantee scheme. The land comprising Mirmi and Kalhay mouzas in Baghmundi block in the district is owned by the Comprehensive Area Development Corporation (CADC).

“We have planted the tea saplings on 20-acre land owned by CADC under the 100-days job guarantee scheme and the local rural body has formed self help groups comprising local villagers to maintain them,” said Alokesh Prasad Roy, Purulia district magistrate.

Sources said the government has procured the tea saplings from Assam and Darjeeling and has set a target to plant around 30,000 tea saplings in total.

“We can produce CTC tea from the leaf here once it grows. But it will take at least five years. If the venture becomes successful it will create a new industry opportunity in the district,” said Roy.

The government is also taking technical assistance from Eco Yes Technologies Pvt Ltd, a registered company of Science and Technology Entrepreneur’s Park (STEP), IIT, Kharagpur in this venture.

Soumen Palit, expert in tea and coffee plantation in non-traditional area and director of the company, said that the prospect of tea and coffee production in laterite soil like in Ayodhya Hills and Bankura is highly promising.

“We are helping the government explore possibilities of tea and coffee production in south Bengal districts like Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram and West Midnapore,” said Palit, a former student of agricultural and food engineering, IIT, Kharagpur.

“It will generate opportunities for us and attract tourists,” said Akhil Singh Mura, an Ayodhya Hills resident.