A body of tea planters said a hike in natural gas price has pushed up costs of the crop production substantially, particularly in Upper Assam where the fuel is a major input component.
The Tea Association of India has written to Duliajan-headquartered Assam Gas Company Ltd (AGCL) on Tuesday, requesting it to reduce the fuel price to ease the cost burden on planters.
TAI secretary general PK Bhattacharjee, in the letter, pointed out that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had on March 31, 2022 raised the price of domestic natural gas by more than 110 per cent to USD 6.1 per metric million British thermal unit (mmbtu) for the first half of the current fiscal as compared to the October 2021-March 2022 period.
Underlining that the tea industry in Upper Assam is dependent on the gas supply by AGCL, he maintained that "this abrupt increase of price" has put the sector in "jeopardy".
He claimed it has resulted in a "steep rise in the cost of production of tea".
"The per 1,000 scum rate of natural gas, supplied to tea gardens, has gone up by four times during the last 10 months, resulting in an increase in the cost of production from Rs 12 per kg to Rs 20 per kg on account of the steep hike in natural gas," Bhattacharjee wrote in the letter.
The TAI, on behalf of the tea industry, urged the AGCL to consider a reduction in the billing components.