The Tocklai Tea Research Institute in Jorhat has been facing severe financial crisis which has affected work at the oldest and largest tea research facility in the world. Employees allege that they have not received several salary components like insurance and provident fund for years. They have been on strike off and on demanding release of assured funds, recruitment of scientists, smooth conduct of research work and other measures.
Retired employees are also yet to get their full dues, they say. The institute’s director A K Barooah says that financial trouble for the institute began during the period 2012-2017. ‘Since then there has been a backlog. We have not been able to pay dues to even retired employees,’ Barooah told PTI in an interview. He says some externally-funded projects are going on currently but major research works are affected.
Assam alone accounts for over 50 per cent of this tea. The tea industry currently funds 64 per cent of Tocklai TRI’s budget. With 10 branches, it looks after research and advisory services in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.
Organised research on tea in India began in 1911, with the establishment of Tocklai Experimental Station at Jorhat. In 2014, it was renamed as Tocklai Tea Research Institute (TTRI). According to Tea Board India data, the total tea production in the country is around 1,370 million kg.