Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Monday allowed tea planters in the state to deploy 50 per cent workforce at a time to carry out operations in the gardens during the ongoing lockdown. Also Read - Assam: 73-year-old Doctor Dies After Assault by Tea Garden Workers in Jorhat

Earlier, the government had given permission to engage only 15 per cent of workers in a garden to undertake skiffing activities and subsequently, the limit was raised to 25 per cent to start plucking operations. Also Read - Assam Hooch Tragedy: 80 Tea Garden Workers Dead After Consuming Spurious Liquor

The state government, in its order, said that the tea garden authorities will have to maintain social distancing norms and proper hygiene practices. Also Read - Over Rs 272 crore PF due by tea gardens to their employees

Reacting to this, Tea Association of India president Raj Bansal said, “This is a much-awaited decision of the state government and we welcome it.”

He said the Assam government had already allowed tea planters to deploy 100 per cent workforce to carry out all activities in the estates.

“We hope the West Bengal government will also permit full deployment of workforce in near future,” Bansal said.

There will be a shortfall in tea production this year, he said, adding that full deployment of workforce is required because the second flush season is in the offing.

“Raising the workforce ceiling during the lockdown is a welcome move. We hope the government will allow 100 per cent workforce deployment in near future,” Luxmi Tea Company managing director Rudra Chatterjee told PTI.

Luxmi Tea, which owns gardens in Phulbari in Dooars and Makaibari in Darjeeling, is awaiting the onset of the second flush season.