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Political storm brewing for Darjeeling tea

Repeated strikes hit industry hard, impact on prices expected

An untended tea garden in Darjeeling. (Photo by Passang Yolmo)

SILIGURI, India -- Darjeeling's tea sector is facing the loss of 40% of its revenues for the year, amid political turmoil over long-standing demands for a separate state in the Himalayan district.

Tea gardens have been forced to remain effectively closed since June 9 following various strike calls. First, it was a day-long general strike by local political party Gorkha Janamukti Morcha. The party has been spearheading demands for a separate state of Gorkhaland, comprising the Darjeeling hills and some neighboring areas, to be carved out of West Bengal state.

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