Kangra: Bearing the brunt of nationwide lockdown imposed to curb coronavirus, the tea industry is suffering due to reduced workforce and lack of transportation, said Aman Pal Singh, Manager of the Dharmsala Tea Company.
"When the lockdown was announced, the plucking of tea leaves and processing had stopped. Later on March 30, we were given permission to restart the activities with minimum use of labour and ensuring cleanliness.
We, however, are still facing issues of reduced workforce and transportation," Singh told ANI here.
He further added, "Our produce in April is usually in heavy demand in the European markets and in Kolkata. However, due to European markets being almost shut we will have to send all the produce to Kolkata, but transporting them to even there is hard as trucks are not plying.
Our stock is held here. If this continues for a few more days then we will have to face 30 to 40 percent losses."
The tea estate manager hoped that the government will allow the inter-state movement of trucks after March 20, which will ensure that the produce fetches good prices and losses can be minimalized for all the growers in the region.
"The work was stopped for many days, the number of people working in tea gardens has also gone down drastically. We are also afraid of the disease and are therefore using masks and are washing our hands on a regular basis while working," Vishu Oraon, a worker, said.
The lockdown, which was originally scheduled to continue till April 14, has been extended to May 3 keeping the rising number of COVID-19 cases in mind.