History was being made as a tea Auction Centre was opened on
25th September, 1970 at the fast developing city of Guwahati, the gateway
to India's North East.
Assam has the largest concentration of tea plantations in the
world and the single biggest tea producing area. It accounts for nearly 55% of
India's total tea production and about 80% of the country's export. The tea
industry is so far the biggest industry of the state of Assam. With the
plantation occupying large areas of land and yet had little contribution to the
development of the area and economic progress. Regional aspirations made it
imperative that the tea industry play a pivot role in the state's economy and
that local entrepreneurs get a slice of the tea trade.
From 1960s efforts were on way for establishment of the Tea
Auction Centre in Guwahati. A group of Assam based planters were determined that
despite all constraints an Auction Centre must be set up and worked steadfastly
towards that objective. Their perseverance had borne fruit and that the Guwahati
Tea Auction Centre had become a reality.
The first meeting of the Guwahati Tea Auction Committee was held
at Shillong, the then capital of Assam, on august 29, 1970 under the
chairmanship of Late Dharmendra Das. A draft of the GTAC rules was approved with
a few amendments and date of the inaugural sale was finally decided as September
The time span was too short for a new warehouse to be built for
storing tea consignments. Shri Anil Sarma having his experience in an
internationally reputed construction company took up the challenge in converting
the spacious ASIDC sheds to a tea warehouse which was completed in record time
to his credit.
The historic truckload from Bahoni Tea Estate had just arrived.
During those heady, hectic days it was another inspiring moment to see local
youths unloading the tea chests from a truck and carrying them on their heads
into the warehouse.
The auction hall at the stadium Guest House bustled with
activity from early in the morning on that day. Members of the officially
constituted Guwahati Tea Auction Committee were busy giving final touches to the
inaugural arrangements. By then the hall became jam-packed. The atmosphere
inside the Auction Hall was out of the world. It was as if each member of the
audience was aware that they were witnesses to the unfolding of another chapter
of the history of tea.
Many dignitaries from the Government, tea planters, prominent
citizens and important personalities, besides the members of the Guwahati Tea
Auction Committee attended. Newly registered buyers who had never before participated
in an auction, outnumbered the buyers from other Auction Centres. Even non-tea
people, out of sheer curiosity or inspired by the occasion, had turned up in
great numbers. Quite a few personalities from the Calcutta (now Kolkata) trade,
producers, brokers and buyers had to come to this first sale, not as
participants, but as observers.
At precise 11 AM former Finance Minister, Late K P Tripathi
addressed the gathering and spoke about the role played by the Government in
setting up this Auction Centre. Then the Chairman, Guwahati Tea Auction Centre,
Late D Das, made a short speech and then invited Late R G Baruah to auction the
first lot to donate the proceeds to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
Amidst wild cheers and deafening echoes, the first lot was
auctioned at a price of Rs 42.50 per Kg (considered to be fabulous during
those days) and knocked down the hammer to a local trader from Jorhat,
Late Jaffar Ali of Diamond Tea Co. Thereafter, the auction was conducted
according to the sale order.
photograph to be attached
The Auction Hall as seen
on September 25, 1970
The GTAC as of today...