KOTTAYAM: The very existence of the Rubber Board has come under threat as the Central Government is considering repealing The Rubber Act 1947. The Rubber Board has been established based on this Act and the Board will cease to be a statutory body if this act is repealed. It will also lose role in the import and export of rubber.
The Commerce Ministry is also planning to form a Plantation Export Development Agency (PEDA) for promoting exports of produces like spices, coffee and tea. However, the Ministry do not plan to bring Rubber under this agency as they feel that it has no scope for export. This means that the rubber farmers in the country are in for a double blow in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Ministry have not made clear whether they will scrap Spices, Tea and Coffee Boards or just bring the export of the produces under PEDA.
The Rubber sector in the country had already received a blow as the Government shelved the National Rubber Policy. The rubber sector in Kerala was keenly waiting for the announcement of the Policy which they felt would have boosted the sector.
Meanwhile, the closing down of the regional offices of the Board in Kerala is looked upon with great apprehension by the sector. Already three offices, Kothamangalam, Ernakulam and Kottayam have shut down. According to sources, the total number of offices will be reduced to 17 from 26 in the coming days. The offices which will soon get shut down orders include Kasargode, Manjeri and Mannarakad. More offices will be shut down in future.
Meanwhile, the Rubber Board in a press note has said that the Kottayam office is not closed but the administrative functioning has been merged with that of Changanassery office as part of austerity measures.