The tea planter’s body has written to the central government highlighting the power woes of tea garden workers.
The tea planters of North East India have urged the central government to allow 90% subsidy on the installation of solar projects in the tea industry.
The representatives of the tea planters’ body, the North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) have submitted a memorandum to the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Railways, Piyush Goyal, apprising him about the demand of the tea growers. The stakeholders also met Darpan Jain, the joint secretary (plantations), Department of Commerce, Government of India in New Delhi.
The memorandum states, “Energy consumption constitutes one of the major costs of the tea industry, the power tariff for the sector is distinctly categorized and is rather high. We request the government to subsidize the power tariff to the tea industry by half for at least a period of five years.”
In its memorandum, NETA stated, “The government may please allow 90% subsidy on the installation of solar projects in the tea industry, as is being done in case of educational institutions, etc. This will not only encourage the industry to produce the energy required by them but will also enable them to sell the additional energy and generate revenue. All tea estates have wastelands that are not suitable for agricultural activity. This fallow land can be utilized to install solar photovoltaic panels and generate solar power.”
Speaking to Mercom from New Delhi, NETA adviser, Bidyananda Barkakoty said, “The tea industry is going through a rough phase. If we can install solar panels on fallow lands of the tea gardens, then we can not only generate power to run the tea estate, but the excess power can also be sold which will ease our financial problem.”
Assam produces nearly 630 million kilos of tea per annum.
Citing an example, Barkakoty stated that in Danguajhar Tea Garden in West Bengal, the consumption of electricity is approximately 70 kWh/kilo of tea made but for the tea garden that produces one million kilos of CTC (tea produced by using crush, tear, and curl method) the consumption is nearly 0.90 kWh/kg.
“The electricity rate in West Bengal, including tariff rates, electricity duty, and meter rent comes to ₹11 ($0.15)/kWh. So, the electricity charge for CTC totals to ₹9.90 ($0.14)/kilo,” he added.
Earlier this year, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone of the 70 MW Amguri Solar Park in Sivasagar district. The Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (APGCL) had issued a Request for Proposal for the development the grid-connected solar photovoltaic projects in Amguri Solar Park in the state in January 2019.
The state is slowly warming up to the idea of maximizing solar power in its energy mix.
Just a few weeks ago, the Assam Energy Development Agency (AEDA) had issued a tender to set up 8 MW of rooftop solar projects with the net metering facility. The rooftop solar projects will be developed under CAPEX mode. All the projects will be set up for residential customers. The bid-submission deadline is August 29, 2019.
Assam produces approx. 630 million kgs of tea per annum.
According to Barkakoty, in a study conducted in Danguajhar Tea Garden, the consumption of electricity is approx.. 70 unit/kg of tea made but the tea garden that produces 10 lakhs of CTC (tea produced by using crush, tear, and curl method) is .90 unit/kg of tea made. “The electricity rate in West Bengal including tariffs rate and electricity duty and meter rent comes to ₹11 (~$0.15)/ unit. So, the electricity charge for CTC totals to ₹9.90 (~$0.14/kg)”
Image Credit: Vikramjit Kakati – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,