August 2, 2016
Vivek Gupta speaks during Zero Hour about the alleged move to shift the Tea Board HQ from Kolkata to Guwahati
Sir, through you, I would like to raise an important issue, the alleged move by the Central Government of trying to shift the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata to Guwahati.
Sir, as you know, tea is a traditional crop of Bengal. Tea is one of the industries which, by an Act of Parliament, came under the Indian Government. The genesis of the Tea Board of India dates back to 1903 when the Indian Tea Cess Bill was passed. The Tea Board, passed under Section 4 of the Tea Act, 1953, was constituted on April 1, 1954.
But recently we are witnessing, Sir, that the employees are being harassed; they are being shifted to other offices in batches, they are being made to wait compulsorily. There is an alleged move, because a new political party has come to power in Assam, to shift the Tea Board headquarters from Kolkata to Guwahati.
Sir, I have full sympathies with Guwahati, our heart goes out to Guwahati, but this should not be done at the cost of Kolkata; we should not be made to suffer. Tea, with respect to Bengal, is as good as our hand is to our body. So, if you are taking the Tea Board headquarters away from Kolkata, it means you are chopping away our hands.
Sir, another point is, whether this is a part of a bigger design? It can be seen from the fact that the Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust and that of Damodar Valley Corporation are people who are not from Bengal. All such big decisions, whether it is appointing of chairmen or shifting of the Tea Board, are done without consulting the State Government, without taking into account the immense hardship the State Government and other employees will face.
Sir, I would also like to say that Bengal is not only the headquarters of the Tea Board, the Kolkata Port is there, auction houses have been there for centuries, warehouses are there; in fact, a lot of infrastructure is there, hence, a lot of jobs are there. Sir, the shifting of the Tea Board headquarters might be a symbolic shift but the problems as a consequence of it would be tremendous on industries and on everybody else.
Thank you, Sir.