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Virus forces `tea break' for e-auctions

L.N. Revathy
P.S. Sundar

Coimbatore/Coonoor , Aug. 12

IT is a `tea break' in the real sense but prolonging for over two days. And it is probably the first time that a tea auction had to be put off due to `mechanical problem'.

Welcome to the era of screen-based auctions of tea where such a problem has cropped up. This week, the auctions, conducted by Teaserve in Coonoor, has been postponed due to a technical snag arising out of a computer virus!

"We noticed a virus infection that led to the closure of the system every time we opened it. So, the auctions have been postponed to Saturday," said Mr K. Swaminathan, Special Officer. "We did this to save our database," he said. Brokers said the problem was due to `virus' in the Local Area Network causing the systems to crash.

Trade sources said the auction authorities were unable to detect the snag until late in the evening on Wednesday.

They said this was not the first time such a problem had been encountered. A similar problem arose six months ago and they were told it would not happen again.

But Mr Swaminathan said it was the first time since the electronic auctions were introduced at the Teaserve that the auction could not be held due to virus problem.

`Teaserve', the first electronic auction system promoted by the Tamil Nadu Government, will be completing its first year of existence next month.

Brokers are upset over the postponement saying it would affect them. Exporters, who have committed for shipment, have been caught off-guard.

A buyer for Russian market said: "This is a clear case of our missing business for a computer fault."

At least seven lakh kg of tea is traded at Teaserve every Wednesday and bids/offerings are cheaper than the conventional outcry system held at the Coonoor Tea Trade Association.

Industry insiders say the small growers are satisfied with the system as they are able to get a maximum price Rs 11 per kg of leaf, depending on its quality.

An auctioneer said: "Even when the power had failed, we had conducted the auctions under candlelight under the open outcry system. The advent of the electronic auctions brings with it newer problems like virus and break down. Such disturbances can upset the trade."

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