Kolkata, May 13 : The Tea Board of India has come up with a number of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) guidelines to be followed by tea estates while continuing the tea plucking and production activities to mitigate the hardship faced by the industry, citizens as well as the labour intensive tea economy, though it is also a part of the agricultural activity, due of the outbreak of Corona pandemic.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has spoken in favour of allowing 50 percent of workers in tea gardens in its order dated April 3, though on April 7 last, The West Bengal Government allowed a partial relaxation and allowed engagement of 15 per cent workers only for skiffing of tea bushes which was extended to 25 per cent on April 13, a Tea Board official on Wednesday said. On May 11, a fresh relief came from West Bengal Government for the tea industry in tune with Union Home Ministry’s April 3 order, that operations including plucking in tea gardens will be allowed with deployment up-to 50 per cent of total regular workforce at a time.
Meanwhile, the SOP guidelines given by the Tea Board to big and small tea growers, processing, manufacturing, warehousing, packaging and transportation from tea units put thrust on barring utilisation of primary contacts or family members of a person who is undergoing treatment for COVID- 19. This apart, an advisory has also been given regarding deployment of migrant workers in tea gardens where there is a clear instruction that migrant workers must be screened before they are deployed for the field operations. Their details such as travel history, previous nature of work, general health conditions shall be recorded and shared with the respective district administration. The SOP also highlighted the use of Drone cameras to keep vigil on the social distancing norms followed by the workers during various field activities.
The other notable instructions include a) ensuring the screening of health parameters of the workers and staff deployed in the field operations, and provide basic protective gear such as hand gloves, notified face masks, protective uniforms, sanitizers, water facility (in fields, crèches) for regular washing of with soaps etc., b) Any staff or worker engaged in the field should be physically fit to take up the work and in case of noticing any COVID-19 symptom among the workers; the same shall be reported to the local health authorities immediately, c)The screening to be done before the commencement (IN) of work and after the completion of work (OUT) and records regarding this activity to be maintained and shared with the local health administration as and when requested by them, d) Minimum handling of green leaves and proper hygiene to be ensured while plucking and handling of green tea leaves and the like.
The Tea Board is hoping that such measures along with very close monitoring by the respective management will help combating COVID-19 in the tea sector. (UNI)