In the third week of nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, tea plucking began in full-scale in Assam's Dibrugarh on Saturday with specific protocols laid down by the state government. The tea industry was hit hard in Assam during the two weeks of lockdown, owing to Coronavirus pandemic. The district administration on Friday gave the permission to open tea gardens for plucking with COVID-19 protocols in place.
For the same, the workers have been given face masks and sanitizers and the tea estates are also ensuring that their tea planters maintain social distancing while working in farms.
"We have given masks and sanitizers to the pluckers and ensuring that they maintain social distancing while working," Mridul Sharma, Manager of Jalan Tea Estate, told ANI.
After receiving permission for plucking on Friday, Dibrugarh Deputy Commissioner Pallav Gopal Jha chaired a meeting on the COVID-19 protocols and directed the tea estates to maintain hygiene standards. Assam has reported 29 positive cases of Coronavirus, including 1 death.
The Assam government has allowed tea planters to carry out essential plant protection and irrigation works in the gardens during the 21-day nationwide lockdown, but asked them to engage only those who are willing to work, an official said on Saturday.
Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, who is also the chairman of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), directed the tea associations to ensure that "no unwilling workers" are forced to work in the gardens during the lockdown, the official said.
''The tea planters have been allowed to undertake essential plant protection activities, spraying of pest repellents to tea bushes and irrigation during the lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus outbreak,'' he said.
The tea garden authorities must ensure social distancing norms and hand washing, the official said, adding that the management should also take up measures for better hygiene. The government directed planters to provide adequate protective gear to labourers while spraying pesticides to tea bushes.