Unattended for years, Jiribam hoping for revival of tea estate

JIRI,9th Oct: After years of successful operation, the tea estate at Jiribam has been lying unattended for even longer period. However, the district is still hoping for reviving the estate in order to bring economic development of the state and its people. Established in 1981-82, the tea estate located at Monbung in Jiribam district has a total area of 425 hectare and tea plants were planted in 300 hectares with successful cultivation in 200 hectares. Fresh tea leaves were sold to estates in Assam’s Jirighat and other areas. As the profit margin was low in selling fresh leaves the government constructed a processing unit to export dried and crushed tea leaves in 2000 for augmenting the profit.

The estate was successfully providing job opportunities to several educated youths and manual labourers of the district. However, the downfall of the estate began after the government appointed several staff against the sanctioned posts. Since then, the estate has been deteriorating leading to its present defunct state. In 2006, the then agriculture minister late Ph Parijat told the state assembly that the government is facing certain difficulties in providing salaries and maintaining the estate due to appointment of 88 excess staff. The estate was established with a loan of Rs 1.80 crore from a Kolkata based corporation and another loan of Rs 1,56,80,200 was taken from India Tea Board for constructing the processing unit, the minister told the House.

The statement of the minister drew objection from the public. Subsequently, in the same year, the government removed all the excess staff and kept only four officials on contractual basis. Interestingly, two of the staff including the accountant worked from Imphal while the remaining two maintained only about 50 hectares of the estate in their own capabilities.

Ahongsangbam Joykumar, who had remained as field assistant of the estate, has also been working towards maintaining the estate at his best level. He had also apprised the situation to the authority concerned on numerous occasions but in vain. Since he has knowledge of the estate’s history, government officials often consult him when it comes to plan for reviving the estate.

However, Joykumar is always left to hope for materialisation of his own unrealised dream without any action oriented initiative from the government. Today, several parts of the estate have become like a forest area and machines in the processing unit gathering rust day by day. Moreover, encroachment by some individuals for domestic and commercial purposes has threatened the estate with each passing day.

However, with the assurance of chief minister N Biren during his visit in the district recently, people of the district are hoping that the new government will take up necessary initiatives to revive the dying tea estate.

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