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Planters flay stir against tea control order

L.N. Revathy

COIMBATORE, Jan 29

THE Planters' Association of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday alleged that the agitation against the Tea (Marketing) Control Order (TMCO) mounted by the buyers and other sectors of the trade was motivated and against the interest of the producing segment including the small growers.

Hailing the TMCO 2003, the PAT Chairman Mr D. Hegde, in a communication to the Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr Arun Shourie, stated that a strange paradox existed today with the auction prices crashing steadily, production costs moving up and retail price levels remaining unchanged.

"The interests of both — the primary producers and the actual consumers has been given a go-by due to the widening gap between the auction and retail price of tea, as the middlemen/traders have been the sole beneficiaries of the economic liberalisation and free global trade policies."

According to the PAT Chairman, the tea auction system that was originally evolved played a mutually supportive role and no party tried to undercut the other or benefit at other's cost.

"The system was transparent. But lately, many distortions and questionable practices crossed the threshold including division of lots, proxy bidding etc, eliminating the competitive spirit. Auction buyers are now exercising a stranglehold over the auctions so as to depress prices," he said.

While insisting that the TMCO should not be diluted at the behest of the buyers, PAT has asked the Government to deal firmly with the agitating section.

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