Aiming to boost tea production in the country, the government is mulling doing away with the requisite permit from the Tea Board of India to start a plantation and has asked states to consider waiving off the no-objection certificate which is required, an official said on Thursday.
"We (commerce ministry) have said it should be relaxed. There should be no requirement of permit from the Tea Board (of India) to plant tea. It is the stand of the commerce ministry that as long as anybody has legal land, permission to plant tea from Tea Board is not needed," additional secretary in the commerce ministry, R. R. Rashmi told media persons here on the sidelines of the AGM of Tea Research Association.
He said about two months back, response from the tea-producing states was sought to do away with the no-objection certificate (NOC) which is mandatory for the planters to start a tea garden.
"The Tea Act, 1953 will address the permit issue but the land issue is to be addressed by the state governments So far there is no response (from the states)," he said.
As per the current rules in West Bengal which produces Darjeeling, Dooars and Terai variants of tea, planters cannot start a tea garden outside areas which have been prescribed by the state government.
In Assam, like other states in India, the NOC has to be obtained from the state government.
"In Assam, the problem is different - the land doesn't belong to the farmers - it is mostly government land or forest land," he said.
The NOC also entitles tea producers to obtain various government subsidies.
Furthermore, the union commerce ministry has already decentralised controls of issuing licenses to regional Tea Board of India offices.
"We have approved that the powers can be delegated to people in the regional offices. To raise production, you need a liberal regime," Rashmi said.
The centralised tea regulator and policy enforcer also issues licenses to tea processing units and factories besides granting licenses to gardens. Prior to this decision, all license approvals were routed to the chairman of the Tea Board of India.