• Assam CM urges petrol cos to bail out tea gardens

    Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has urged all petroleum companies to raise their production of natural gas to bail out nearly 1.5 lakh big and small tea gardens which have been crippled by short supply of gas, which fuels the tea-making factories.

    Tea and petroleum together form the state’s industrial backbone. The two industries are largely concentrated in upper Assam areas, which is BJP’s new-found electoral bastion. The tea industry has been the sole source of income for several lakh adivasis of Chotanagpur origin for over two centuries now. The adivasis were brought by the British as workers in tea gardens. These tea gardens depend on natural gas as an economical source of energy for running the factories, instead of electricity which is costlier.

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    Sonowal said, “ONGC, OIL and GAIL must take immediate steps for ensuring adequate supply of gas to the tea gardens. Around 10 lakh people spread across 1.5 lakh big and small tea gardens are dependent on the tea industry. As the present period is the peak season for tea production in Assam, continued shortage in supply of gas will adversely affect the state economy as well.”

    Sonowal, accompanied by state industry minister Chandra Mohan Patowary and BJP MPs and MLAs from upper Assam, met additional secretary of petroleum ministry and top officials of ONGC, OIL and GAIL in New Delhi on Tuesday. “All the petroleum companies have been urged to raise their production and their full cooperation has been sought for augmenting tea and other industries in Assam. They are to find out the causes of leakages in gas supply chain and take steps for optimum utilization,” he said. Jonathan Quick Jersey

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