Dooars row may hit ‘first flush’ tea

SILIGURI: The ongoing political upheaval in Dooars may soon hit the high-quality and highly valued ‘first flush’ tea trade there. Dooars contributes over 15% to the all India tea production.

“Undoubtedly, the charged environment has created uneasiness among planters here. If the trouble continues for long, the next ‘first flush’ business will be severely affected,” said Consultative Committee of Plantation Associations (CCPA) principal advisor NK Basu.

According to experts, tea bushes remain at the best metabolic state and yield the best quality tea between 18 and 32 degree Celsius in post-winter and pre-peak summer season. After the two- month long no-plucking winter season, the new batch of leaves, normally plucked in March, comes in heavy quantities. Known as ‘first flush’ produce, it brings in the highest price. Out of around 920 million kg all-India tea production, Dooars produces 145 million kg. But its higher price makes the industry highly sensitive to the ‘first flush’ output in Dooars like all other tea producing areas.

“The political crisis in Dooars is yet to touch our management activities. But, the growing rift between Gorkhas and the tribals, two major communities in our workforce, will badly impact the overall operation, including production in all Dooars gardens,” said a senior tea garden manager.

While the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha is demanding the tea-producing Dooars and Terai be included in their proposed Gorkhaland state, tribals, under Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad banner, are strongly against this. The ongoing tussle has already claimed two lives.