The Tea Board on Wednesday issued a standard operating procedure for activities in the gardens in the wake of the lockdown, asking planters to deploy drone cameras to oversee adherence of social distancing norms during plucking and other field operations.
The board, in its guidelines, asked planters to ensure that the health condition of workers and staff deployed in the fields must be monitored, and they should be given hand gloves, face masks, protective uniforms, sanitisers along with water for washing hands.
Regarding deployment of migrant workers, the Tea Board stated that they should be properly screened before engaging them in various activities.
The previous nature of work, travel history and general health condition of the migrant labourers should be shared with the respective district authorities, it said in a statement.
Any staff or worker engaged in the field should be physically fit to take up the work and in case of any COVID-19 symptom noticed among the workers, the same should be reported to the local health authorities immediately, the guidelines stated.
The West Bengal government has allowed deployment of 50 per cent workforce in the tea gardens during the lockdown, while planters in Assam have been given permission to engage 100 per cent labour force.
In view of the lockdown at the begining of a new season, planters from Darjeeling, Dooars and Terai, the dominant tea growing regions of West Bengal, and also from Assam valley and Cachar, have rued about the prevailing situation.
Assam had produced around 715.79 million kg of tea in the last calendar year, while West Bengal's contribution was 424.06 million kg.
The estimated production loss will be between 100 and 120 million kg in 2020 due to the lockdown, the officials said.
The country had produced around 1,389 million kg of tea in 2019.