Assam Tea Industry

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Assam Tea Industry

  • See page Tea Plantation concerning tea production and providing further information sources.

History

The first discovery of the tea-plant growing wild in Upper Assam was in 1821. The history, development, cultivation, processing and economics of the tea industry in Assam is well documented in “The Imperial Gazetteer of India” Vol6. Pages 61-66 [1].

The first commercial production of tea in Assam was the establishment of a Tea Garden at Chabua in 1837 and by 1840 the 'Assam Company Limited' was commercially producing tea for which 'Kilburn & Co' were the Managing Agent.

Tramways and Railways

Tramways were mainly used for bringing leaf from the gardens for processing at the factory, these were narrow gauge(NG) 2ft 6in/762mm or 2ft/610mm tracks. Some of them linked the factory to the nearest mainline station or river ghat and used to convey the processed tea out for onward shipment and for bring in coal, supplies and equipment.

Assam Tea Industry Tramways gives a table based on Simon Darvill's book “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” [2], which gives considerably more information than given here.

Districts

The Assam Tea Industry was centred around a number of ‘Districts’ :-

Cachar District .
The “Imperial Gazeteer ” states that ‘in 1904, 164 tea gardens with an out-turn of over 31,000,000 lb. (14,000 tonnes) of manufactured tea, which gave employment to 140 Europeans and 63,500 natives ..... The principal tea companies are the Tarapur, with its centre at Dawan, 18 miles(30km) east of Silchar; the Scottpur, centre Pollarbund, 11 miles east of Silchar; and the’Bengal Tea Company’ in ‘Hailakandi District Subdivision’(see below), centre Ainakhal [3].
The Assam Bengal Railway(ABR) ‘Silchar Branch’ , metre gauge(MG), opened in 1898 [4] . ‘From Badarpur the line turns north, and after crossing the River Barak by a large bridge winds through the North Cachar hills, via into the Assam valley’ [5] via Panchgram, Katakhal, Arunachal, to Silchar. The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states - ‘The steamer service of the District is provided by the India General Steam Navigation Company and the Rivers Steam Navigation Company. Shallow-draught steamers ply on the Barak in the cold season. During the rainy season there is a regular service of large steamers between Silchar and Calcutta; and feeder-steamers go up the Barak to Lakhipur, up to Madhura to Chandighat tea estate, up the Ghagra to the Hattia rocks, and up the Katakhal to Kukichara” [3] .

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Bhubandhar Tea Co Ltd
  • Consolidated Tea & Lands Co Ltd
  • Cossipore Tea Co Ltd
  • Derby Tea Co Ltd
  • Dhamai Tea Co
  • Dudpatli Tea Co Ltd
  • Kalline Tea Co Ltd
  • Koyah Tea Co Ltd
  • Majagram Tea Co Ltd
  • Scotpore Tea Co Ltd
  • Tarrapore Tea Co Ltd
  • Tilkah Tea Co Ltd
  • Unknown Company 4

Hailakandi District Subdivision. Part of Cachar District (see above).
The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Loobah Co
  • Western Cachar Co Ltd

Dibrugarh District .
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states ‘In 1904 there were 130 tea gardens with 61,510 acres (250sq.km) under plant, giving employment to 175 Europeans and 89,670 natives... [6].
Dibrugarh is connected to the sea at Chittagong by the Assam-Bengal Railway(ABR). The Dibru-Sadiya Railway connects to the Brahmaputra River steamer ghat, Dibrugarh eastward.

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Amalgamated Tea Estates Co Ltd
  • Anglo American Direct Tea Trading Co Ltd
  • Assam Frontier Tea Co
  • Balijan Tea Co
  • Bordubi Tea Co Ltd
  • Budla Beta Tea Co Ltd
  • Bukhial Tea Estate Ltd
  • Chabua Tea Co Ltd
  • Dekhari Tea Co Ltd
  • Dikhari Syndicate Ltd
  • Eastern Assam Tea Co Ltd
  • Greenwood Tea Co Ltd
  • Jokai (Assam) Tea Co Ltd
  • Junctoli Tea Co Ltd
  • Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd
  • Rajmai Tea Co
  • Romai Tea Co Ltd
  • Sibsagar Road Tea
  • Thanai Tea Co Ltd
  • Unknown Company 5

Tinsukia District Subdivision. Part of the Dibrugarh District (see above).
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” for 1908 states ‘Tinsukiais rapidly increasing in importance, as it the junction of the Assam-Bengal Railway and the Dibru-Sadiya Railway [7].

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Assam Frontier Tea Co
  • Babu Dhorjonarain Das
  • Bazalone Tea Co Ltd
  • Daimukhia Tea Estate
  • Deamoolie Tea Co Ltd
  • Digulturrung Tea Estate
  • Dinjan Tea Co Ltd
  • Jokai (Assam) Tea Co Ltd
  • Kanan Devan Hills Produce Co Ltd
  • Mahalbari Tea Co Ltd
  • Singlo Tea Co Ltd
  • Upper Assam Tea Co Ltd,
  • Unknown Company 2
  • Unknown Company 3

Lakhimpur District.
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states:- ‘Lakhimpur was the scene of the first attempts at tea cultivation by Government in 1835 and the ‘Assam Company’ commenced operations here in 1840.... In 1904 there were 143 gardens with 70,591 acres(285 sq.km) under plant which yielded more than 30,000,000 lb( 13,000 tonnes) of manufactured tea and gave employment to 199 Europeans and 100,849 natives. The principal companies are the ‘Dum Duma Company’, with headquarters at Dum Duma; the ‘Jokai Company’, HQ Panitola; the ‘Assam Frontier Ta Company, HQ Talap; and the ‘Dihing Company, HQ Khowang [8].

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Diju Tea Co Ltd
  • G S Reade
  • Harmutti Tea Co Ltd
  • Jokai (Assam) Tea Co Ltd

Sibsagar District.
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states:- ‘Sibsagar has long been a great centre for the tea industry. By 1852 the ‘Assam Company’ had opened fifteen factories with 2,500 acres (10 sq.km) of gardens under cultivation, which yielded an out-turn of 267,000 lb( 121 tonnes) of manufactured tea .... In 1904 there were 159 gardens in the District with 79,251 acres (320 sq.km) under cultivation, which yielded over 30,000,000 lb(13,000 tonnes) of manufactured tea and gave employment to 182 Europeans and 94,061 natives. The most important companies are the ‘Assam Company’, with headquarters at Nazira, about 9 miles(14km) south-east from Sibsagar; the ‘Jorhat Company’, HQ Cinnamara, 4 miles(6km) from Jorhat; and the ‘Brahmaputra Company’, HQ Neghereting (port for Golaghat) [9].

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Assam Co Ltd
  • Hosack Esq, J
  • Lak.wa Tea Co
  • Singlo Tea Co Ltd
  • Unknown Company 1

Golaghat District Subdivision . Part of Sibsagar District (see above).
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states ‘In 1904 there were 47 gardens with 20,324 acres(82 sq.km) under plant, employing 45 Europeans and 23,883 natives [10].

‘During the rains feeder-steamers come up the Dhansiri as far as Golaghat, but in the dry season the nearest steamer ghat is at Shikarighat, 18 miles(29 km) away. The nearest railway station is at Kamarband Ah, about 8 miles (13km) south of the town [10].

The following Company is known to have tramways in the District , details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Bukhial Tea Estate Ltd

Jorhat District Subdivision . Part of Sibsagar District (see above).
The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Hunwal Tea Co Ltd
  • Jhanzi Tea Association Ltd
  • Jorehut Tea Co Ltd
  • Moabund Tea Co Ltd
  • Tingiri Tea Co Ltd

Karimganj District Subdivision. Part of Sylhet District.
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” states ‘In 1904 there were (in Sylhet District) 124 gardens with 72,497 acres (293 sq.km) planted out, which yielded 39,000,000 lb(17,770 tonnes) of manufactured tea, and gave employment to 194 Europeans and 79,397 natives... The gardens are situated in the south of the District on the low hills... The largest companies are the ‘Consolidated Tea and Lands Company, with headquarters in the Balisira valley; the ‘Chargola Tea Association, in the Singla valley; and the Langla Tea Company in the South Sylhet [11].

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Chargola Tea Association Ltd,
  • Consolidated Tea & Lands Co Ltd
  • East India & Ceylon Tea Co Ltd
  • Hatikhira Tea Co Ltd
  • Isa Bheel Tea Co Ltd
  • Langai Valley Tea Co Ltd
  • Puthni Tea Co Ltd

Tezpur (Sonitpur) District]]
The “Imperial Gazetteer of India” 1908 states ‘The tea industry has made great strides in the last 20 years... by 1904 there were 87 gardens, yielding an out-turn of nearly 16,000,000 lb(7,250 tonnes) of manufactured tea and giving employment to 99 Europeans and 52,085 natives. The principal companies are the ‘Empire of India Company, headquarters Barjuli; and the ‘Bishnath Company, HQ Pratapgarh [12].

The following Companies are known to have tramways in the District, details are given in Assam Tea Industry Tramways – Alphabetic Listing

  • Bargang Tea Co
  • Bishnauth Tea Co Ltd
  • Empire Of India & Ceylon Tea Co
  • Majuli Tea Co Ltd
  • Sakomoto Tea Estates Ltd

References

  1. “The Imperial Gazetteer of India” Vol6. Pages 61-66; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  2. “Industrial Railways and Locomotives of India and South Asia” compliled by Simon Darvill. Published by ‘The Industrial Railway Society’ 2013. ISBN 978 1 901556 82-7. Available at http://irsshop.co.uk/India.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 9, p. 254. ; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  4. “Administration Report on Railways 1918” page 153 (pdf161); Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  5. “Imperial Gazetteer of India”, v. 9, p. 256. ; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  6. “Imperial Gazetteer of India”, v. 11, p. 342.; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  7. “Imperial Gazetteer of India”, v. 23, p. 380.; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  8. Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 16, p. 123. ; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  9. Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 22, p. 349. .; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  10. 10.0 10.1 “Imperial Gazetteer of India”, v. 12, pp. 308, 309. ; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  11. “Imperial Gazetteer of India”, v. 23, p. 195.; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017
  12. Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 11, p. 186.; Retrieved 22 Feb 2017