Q) Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area. Explain.
British were heavily dependent on Chinese imports for their tea consumption and it led to huge outflow of cash to satisfy this demand. Thus they started tea plantations across all such regions in India where climatic conditions were similar to tea growing regions in China.
Tea gardens were developed all along Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh wherever the climatic conditions and terrain lent itself to plantation of tea shrubs. But the success of plantations was in limited.
The areas where tea plantation succeeded included the regions located in monsoon belt – Assam, West Bengal and the foot hills of the Himalayas in the in the North and the moist slopes and the plateaus of the Western Ghats in the south. Not much success was received in other areas such as Himachal Pradesh, Ranchi, Doon valley etc.
REASONS FOR THE SAME:
It is because of very peculiar climatic conditions which tea plantation needs and they exist only in very specific area.
CONDITIONS FOR TEA PLANTATION:
Tea cultivation requires average annual rainfall of around 150-200cm along with frequent showers well distributed throughout the year.
An ambient temperature between 13-28 degrees Celsius is conducive for growth of tea as tea grows well in moderately hot and humid climate.
Presence of high land, well-drained soil having a good depth and pH around 4.5 to 5.5 and more than 2% organic matter.
Presence of sloppy land so that water doesn’t stagnate.
Though region like Shivaliks have some of these characteristics, they lack well distributed rainfall and ambient temperature range which are needed for having a good tea crop and thus tea cultivation didn’t succeed beyond Darjeeling area.
The Ranchi gardens have poor soil not suitable for tea cultivation.
The rainfall, temperature and humidity needed by tea were not available in Himahchal Pradesh and Dehradun although soil in Dehradun is equivalent to that of Assam.
Tea needs relatively low temperature for its growth, but not very low, that can adversely affect cultivation of tea. For example, the Kangra valley lies in the foot hills of Himalayas and here climate is too cold.
While cool climate and low gradient were also available in some areas of western Shivaliks but absence of deep clayey soil and lack of year round rains led to the failure of tea plantations there.
Further, there was one more reason of failure of tea plantation in Kangra valley. The quality of the Kangra tea was readily accepted in Europe and it was even awarded. But then in 1905, this area was struck by an Earthquake, which ruined the tea plantations. This caused panic into the British planters and they sold their estates to locals and move away. The local people could not the plantations because of technical knowhow.
Moreover economic factors like presence of cheap labour through bonded labourers permitted by Plantation Act which brought labours to work on plantations from Bihar and Bengal also favoured the spread of tea cultivation in Darjeeling.
Relatively better transport facilities and proximity to ports in Bengal also favoured tea plantations in Darjeeling .
Moreover cultural factors such as the presence of large indigenous and tribal population in other areas such as Himachal Pradesh, Doon valley etc. reduced the scope of commercial activities like tea plantation.
These areas were relatively calm unlike politically charged mainland of India. Absence of bigger intermediary class like zamindars as they existed in Bengal & Bihar helped planters to work more freely
Less population in these areas helped them for carrying mass cultivation in vacant lands. Forests were cleared for plantation without much protest. Labors were easily brought from tribal areas of Bihar, Bengal and Orrisa
Therefore Whereas the British planters had developed tea gardens all along the Shivaliks and Lesser Himalayas from Assam to Himachal Pradesh, in effect they did not succeed beyond the Darjeeling area.