Parliamentary panel slams dumping of spurious ‘Champagne of Teas’


Photo credit Twitter Gopaldhara Tea Estate

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By S Jha

August 22: The Parliamentary standing committee on Commerce has expressed dismay at the unabated dumping of ‘Champagne of Teas’ in India since 2013-14. Worse is the fact, as underlined by the panel, is the dumping of spurious Darjeeling Tea from Nepal.

Dismayed at the prevalence of the dumping of spurious Darjeeling Tea, the Parliamentary panel has called for setting up of a NABL accredited Quality Control Lab in Darjeeling district in West Bengal for checking the conformity of quality standards of each consignment of imported teas.

The panel also recommended that an investigation should be conducted by Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) on the dumping of teas from Nepal for suggesting remedial measures and imposition of anti-dumping duty on imported tea.

“The fake Darjeeling Tea, Nepal undermines the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat or self-reliant India,” noted the Parliamentary panel.

Darjeeling Tea, known as ‘Champagne of Teas’, is exclusively grown in the foothills of eastern Himalayas in Darjeeling district of West Bengal. It is the only tea in the world to be tagged as Darjeeling Tea under Geographical Indication.

“Despite being globally renowned as a specialty tea, the tea production in Darjeeling is reeling under various issues which inter alia include dumping of substandard and spurious tea from neighbouring countries especially Nepal, delay in releasing of subsidies, low wages and absenteeism of labourers,” stressed the Parliamentary panel.

Around 22.94 million kgs of tea had been imported into India from the month of January to November in 2021 as against around 21.40 million kgs during the same period of the previous year.

“Except for certain genuine imports of tea which were meant for re-exports, most of the imports were cheap and of low quality. The inferior quality of tea was re-exported under the brand name of Indian, Darjeeling or Assam teas to global markets. This is tarnishing the image of Indian tea in international markets,” added the Parliamentary panel.

The Committee recommended the Government to review and revisit Indo-Nepal Treaty for incorporating stringent requirements for certificate of origin on tea imports from Nepal.

Incidentally, tea imports in India is growing, as the panel noted that while India imported 15.54 million kgs of tea in 2019-20, this was 27.75 million kgs in 2020-21.

During the same period, tem imports from Nepal climbed from 7.29 million kgs to 10.74 million kgs.

It was, however, not clear if China is dumping the spurious tea in the Indian market by taking advantage of Indo-Nepal Treaty.

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