Shimla: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, headed by BJP Rajya Sabha member Shanta Kumar, has recommended declaration of tea as the national drink.
    
Disclosing this at Palampur on Friday, Shanta Kumar said the 102nd report of the Committee on Tea industry placed in both Houses of Parliament, revealed that 96 to 99 per cent people in both urban and rural areas consume tea and as such it has already acquired the status of the national drink.
    
Right from people living in huts to five star hotels, tea is consumed widely by people in the country, the panel found.
    
Shanta Kumar said the Committeee made an exhaustive tour of tea and coffee growing areas and listened to the problems of tea and coffee cultivators and about 100 recommendations have been made for revival and strengthening of tea and coffee industry.
    
In Himachal, the area under tea cultivation has shrunk from 2300 hectares to 1100 hectares which was a matter of grave concern and immediate steps needed to be taken to save tea industry of Himachal, he said.
    
The Committee also recommended that a package be announced for tea industry within three months and fifty percent subsidy to coffee growers for regeneration and replantation of coffee plants for revival.
    
It also recommended modification of MNREAGA to cover labour engaged by coffee plantations to meet the shortage of labour.

(Agencies)

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