Three thousand small tea growers from Assam are going to express their solidarity with noted social activist Anna Hazare by joining his satyagraha in New Delhi on March 23. The veteran Gandhian who has been the face of the Lokpal movement in the country has announced that he is going to raise the issue of Jan Lokapal, farmers’ demands and poll reforms during the satyagraha.
Team Anna national core committee member and north-east in-charge Dibyajyoti Saikia on Sunday addressed a conclave of small tea growers at Barbaruah where various issues and grievances faced by the state’s small tea planters were raised. During the meeting the small tea growers’ body pledged to send at least 3,000 members to the Anna Hazare’s programme in New Delhi to highlight their plights.
“I raised the issue regarding the plight of small tea growers of the state with Anna Hazare. He has agreed to highlight the issue during the satyagraha. The small tea growers are one of the prime contributors of the state’s economy but they are deprived even from the minimum benchmark price of green tea leaves. There are around 1.8 lakh small tea growers but most of them have no land pattas. Anna Hazare’s satyagraha movement will give them a platform to raise their issues,” Saikia who is also the face of the anti-witch hunting movement in Assam said.
The small tea growers in the state on an average contribute 820 million kg of green tea leaves annually. Tea growers holding less than 10.12 hectares or 25 acres of plantation land are categorized as small tea growers. While the state government has fixed the minimum benchmark price of green tea leaves at Rs 17 per kg, the tea manufacturing units or bought leaf factories usually buy at the rate between Rs 7 to Rs 12 per kg from the small tea growers. The small tea growers have been demanding a proper pricing policy for tea leaves.