Connecting Regions of Asia.

Tea in no-mans land ? 

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State-owned Tripura Tea Development Corporation (TTDC) is planning tea plantations in the no-mans land all along the state’s 839 kms border with Bangladesh.

Large fertile tracts of the no-mans land on this border stretch is cultivated by Indian farmers but Bangladeshis often take away the harvest stealthily at night .

“They can take away paddy or vegetables but they cannot take away tea leaves because that needs processing in factories. There are no tea factories on the border ,” said TTDC chairman Santosh Saha. 

When asked about possible security objections from BSF , Saha said tea bushes are low plants which will not hinder line of sight for vigil by  the border guards.

” I know we can’t plant croos because they will be stolen and big trees which will obstruct the visibility by BSF. Tea bushes are low and they ( Bangladeshis ) can’t steal it because there’s no factory on the border to use them,” Saha told Southasian Monitor.com

He said about 300 kms of the border with the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh may be difficult to plant tea .

“But even if we can plant tea on the no-mans land along 500 kms with Bangladesh’s plainland areas like Sylhet, Noakhali, Comilla and Chittagong, we are talking of thousands of hectares of tea plantation,” said Santosh Saha.

Tripura is hard pressed to find arable land for cultivation because two-thirds of the state’s land area is hilly and undulating, he said. 

TTDC will soon seek necessary clearences from relevant authorities  and set up panchayat level cooperatives to plant tea on noman’s land, he disclosed.

Saha said much of this tea may be finally exported to Bangladesh where there is a shortfall of 6.5 million kgs of made tea  in the domestic market .

” This is the nearest foreign market for us and can get our growers better price than they get in tea auctions in Guwahati and Calcutta,” he said.” Our chief minister has proposed export of Tripura tea to Bangladesh.” 

” The relation between the two leaders are like mother and son.”

Biplab Deb has opposed extending the NRC to Tripura in BJP party forums and said implementation of Citizenship Amendment Act was needless in Tripura because Tripura was the only state in India where citizenship cards have been issued to all citizens for the last sixty years.

The Tripura chief minister has his roots in Chandpur in Bangladesh and a part of his extended family is still there.

In a recent seminar in Assam capital Guwahati , Bangladesh commerce minister Tipu Munshi said ‘Deb’s body is in India but his heart is in Bangladesh.’

When asked if he was embarassed by the comment made before an Assamese audience , Deb was unfazed.

” I advocate the best of relations with Bangladesh because it will not only benefit Tripura but the whole of Northeast because our access to sea lies through Bangladesh and without that we cannot prosper,” Deb told Southasian Monitor on Dec 28 on the sidelines of the popular Padma-Gomati festival organised by Vanguard TV channel in Agartala to promote better understanding between Tripura and Bangladesh.

” Can India get a better friend than Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League ?” Deb said.

He said PM Modi was keen to settle the Teesta river water sharing deal with Bangladesh but West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerji was playing spoilsport.

” If she does not create problems, this deal can be done when Modiji visits Bangladesh this summer for Bangabandhu anniversary.  The draft has been ready since 2009 but Mamata has been raising ever new issues like giving water from other rivers,” Biplab Deb said.

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