Jorhat: Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday said tea would be declared as national drink by April next year.
"The drink would be accorded national drink status by April 17 next year to coincide with the 212th birth anniversary of first Assamese tea planter and Sepoy Mutiny leader Maniram Dewan," Ahluwalia said while addressing the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the Assam Tea Planters Association.
It was Maniram Dewan who was not only the first indigenous tea planter but also involved in the national movement, he said at the the Tocklai Experimental Station. "The other important reason is that half of the tea industry labour comprises women and is the largest employer in the organised sector," Ahluwalia added.
The Deputy Chairman said he will soon take up the matter with Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma. He said India is the largest producer and consumer of black tea in the world. According to ORG-India Tea Consumption Study, 83 per cent households in India consume tea and is the cheapest beverage in the world after water.
Ahluwalia urged tea planters and producers to emulate the path of coffee planters and go in for producing more varieties.
There are more than 20 varieties of coffee in the market but there are only two varieties of tea -- CTC and Orthodox -- and there was an urgent need to bring in more varieties, he said.