At a time when planters in the Terai region have heaved a sigh of relief after the area started receiving heavy rainfall, following a week-long drought like situation, torrential rains in the Dooars on 25-26 June has come as a matter of concern for vast tea plantation areas there.
Planters fear that production may drop in the long-run, thus adversely affecting the industry.
The Tea Association of India (TAI) has approached the local administration, particularly the irrigation department and the Zilla Parishad, seeking help in the gardens in protecting embankments and arresting diversion of rivers through the gardens.
Culverts constructed with hume pipes underneath have been washed away in the rain.
“Rivers originating from Bhutan hills have caused massive damage in the Tea Estates of Dooars as most of these rivers criss-cross tea estates,” said TAI secretary general PK Bhattacharjee.
According to him, the tea belt in North Bengal, particularly the Dooars region, has been experiencing torrential rains since 25/26 June.
“Plantations such as Mechpara Tea Estate (TE) experienced 406 mm of rainfall on 25/26 June this year. Furthermore, plantations like Chengmari TE recorded 254 mm rainfall, Aryaman TE 279.4 mm rainfall on 26 June. Apart from flooding of huge acres of plantations, similar reports have been received from the Toorsa tea estate (TE), Dalgaon TE and Good Hope TE. Majerdabri TE reports 16 inches rainfall till yesterday morning,” Mr Bhattacharjee said.
Reports have also indicated that this rainfall has affected traffic flow on the Dhupguri-Jalpaiguri road, thereby causing logistical problems to the Tea Industry. The disruption in connectivity, logistics and undue hardship on the workforce has been unprecedented, the officials said.
The industry is assessing the extensive damage caused and this will take some time, they added.
However, it is clear that the long-term effect on the plantations and production would be huge as increased rains cause stunted growth of green leaf, they said.