Tea bar plan hits space hurdle
The state tea industry’s plan to open a joint to enjoy all the flavours of a perfect cup of Assam tea is caught in a “space” crunch.
In May 2011, the state government had committed itself to set up a tea bar on the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre premises “within 45 days” with the aim of promoting the beverage.
“Almost a year has passed after signing of agreement between the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre and Cha Bar Society for opening of a chai bar. However, till date, the space has not been handed over to us by the GTAC,” North Eastern Tea Association chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty told The Telegraph.
The tea bar will be run by Assam Cha Bar, a society comprising Golaghat-based North Eastern Tea Association, Jorhat-based Assam Tea Planters’ Association and Dibrugarh-based Bharatiya Cha Parishad, registered under the Societies Registration Act with its headquarters in Guwahati.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Assam Cha Bar and the GTAC on May 9 through which it would provide space for setting up the bar.
The general body meeting of the GTAC had also approved of the project.
Barkakoty said the project would help promote Assam tea, bring revenue to the centre and generate direct and indirect employment.
The total area required for the tea bar is 1,700 square feet, which can house a window retail counter, a speciality tea counter, a lounge, merchandising, toilets, small storage, a kitchen and a small office.
Former Assam Tea Planters’ Association chairman A.R. Kasera had said at the 75th annual general meeting-cum-platinum jubilee last month that the GTAC was yet to hand over the allotted space. “We are ready to start the interior work immediately on handing over of the site,” he said.
The meeting was attended by Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi and other senior officials.
To set up the chai bar, the GTAC will have to move the ATM, card room of Guwahati Gymkhana Club and statistics room.
GTAC secretary Jayanta Kakati said the matter was being resolved.
The centre had to write to the authorities of the Oriental Bank of Commerce, which has an ATM on its premises to vacate the room as the lease agreement had expired.
Sources in the tea industry said the government should provide all necessary help to set up the bar.
The promoters are hoping to provide 5 per cent of the turnover in the first year to the centre.
Another location was shown to the promoters but they did not find it feasible.
“Guwahati has the potential to have a number of tea bars as there are in cities like Darjeeling, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur,” Barkakoty said.
Deepak Purohit of Tea Centre, a tea bar in Mumbai, said tea bars were a paying proposition.
“India is a tea-drinking nation and tea is popular thanks to its health aspect,” Purohit toldThe Telegraph.
On the viability of a tea bar, Purohit said it all depended on the logistics and infrastructure.
“If the location and other attributes are perfect, it should work,” he added.