The average price of Darjeeling tea has already risen to 380 per kg and the industry fears that if the protests continue, prices will go up by another 10%-20% depending upon the quality.
This is the time of the year when the 87 tea estates in Darjeeling produce the bulk of tea that reaches the markets of Europe, Japan and the US. Producers fear that after the announcement of statehood for Telangana, GJM will scale up protests for Gorkhaland which hinder tea production.
"There was no work in Darjeeling gardens last Saturday as it was the martyrs' day. And from Monday, the bandh call given by GJM has completely paralysed the estates. In last three days, bushes have grown. Quality will be affected if leaves are not plucked. There is a bandh in Siliguri on Thursday and Friday. There will be no shipment of teas from Darjeeling to the plains.
And from next Saturday, GJM has called an indefinite strike. Though the tea industry has been exempted, it will be difficult to move teas from the gardens. Supply of inputs will be affected and this will definitely push up tea prices by 10%-20%," said S S Bagaria, chairman, Darjeeling Tea Association.