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COVID-19: Darjeeling tea gardens seek permission to operate

during lockdown Kolkata, Mar 26 (PTI) The Darjeeling tea industry has sought permission from the district administration to keep the gardens open during the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Thursday.

According to an order, production and manufacturing units requiring continuous process may function after obtaining necessary approval from the district magistrate, the industry body claimed.

'We have sought permission from the district magistrate to continue operations in the gardens,' DTA principal advisor Sandeep Mukherjee told PTI.

A few tea gardens in the hills had continued their operations on Wednesday, sources said.

Tea bushes require continuous plucking failing which the plant will be overgrown causing damage to it, the assocation said in a letter to the Darjeeling district magistrate.

'It is an agricultural operation requiring continuous process in terms of manufacturing as the green leafs are perishable and time sensitive,' Mukherjee said.

The association, however, appreciated the measures taken by the Centre and the West Bengal government to tackle the crisis while seeking the exemption to keep the gardens open, he said.

Mukherjee said there should be restrictions on the entry of outsiders to the gardens to prevent the coronavirus outbreak.

Tea Board chairman P.K. Bezbaruah had on Wednesday said the Darjeeling tea planters may lose first flush production, a premium variety, by around 30 per cent, due to the lockdown.

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