The Tea Board of India will monitor teas exported from Assam and West Bengal to ensure strict compliance of quality norms.
The board has constituted a committee, Tea Council of North India, to check tea exported from north India. This primarily includes the inland container depot at Amingaon and tea warehouses in Assam and West Bengal.
The council comprises Tea Board of India chairman M.G.V.K. Bhanu, McLeod Russel India Ltd director Azam Monem, director of J. Thomas and Company Krishan Katyal, director of J.V. Gokal and Company Bharat Arya and director of Balaji Agro International Anshuman Kanoria.
The tenure of the council shall be two years.
“The modalities will be worked out later but the samples will be tested on a random basis,” Bhanu told The Telegraph. He said the modalities would deliberate on the mechanism to test samples.
The random inspections will adhere to the procedures laid down in the Tea (Marketing) Control Order, 2003, Tea (Distribution and Export) Control Order 2005, Tea Warehousing (Licensing) Order, 1989 and Tea Waste (Control) Order, 1959.
“We have been demanding for long random checking of samples before any consignment is exported. We hope that the proposed council will work as a screening mechanism,” North Eastern Tea Association chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty told The Telegraph. The testing can be done at any National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-accredited lab or at the Tea Research Association lab in Calcutta. The NABL is under the department of science and technology.
India exports CTC (crush, tear, curl) varieties of teas mainly to Egypt, Pakistan and the UK, and the premium orthodox variety to Iraq, Iran and Russia. The export of tea was 190.95 million kg in 2011-12 against 213.79 million kg in 2010-11 while the estimated value of export during 2011-12 was Rs 2,863.33 crore against Rs 2,995.70 crore in in 2010-11. North India produces about 75 per cent of country’s tea and south India about 25 per cent.
The parliamentary standing committee on commerce has expressed concern over the commerce department’s unpreparedness to deal with unscrupulous exporters who import cheap tea from other countries and export the same, without any significant value-addition, under false certificate as tea of Indian origin. The committee said the department’s apathy towards such practices had undermined the image of Indian tea in the export market and it should take urgent steps to redress the situation.