Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Assam is by far the most important planting area in the whole of India, and the tea gardens in this province alone employ more than half the total number of labourers employed on the plantations in British India. Tea is grown only in the lowlands, which form two valley areas. The northern, running just under and parallel to the Himalaya, is the valley of the Brahmaputra, known locally as the Assam valley, and frequently referred to in other parts of the province simply as " Assam ". It is a long valley, generally narrow and flat, and while tea gardens are to be found in all its six districts, nearly all the gardens lie in the four upper districts of Lakhimpur, Sibsagar, Nowgong and Darrang, in substantial parts of which tea gardens are almost continuous. The southern valley, known as the Surma valley, is a wider and much shorter basin, receiving a number of streams from three sides, which meet in the Barak, a river joining the Brahmaputra in Bengal. In this valley the tea gardens lie in a number of separate areas occupying low elevations or flat lands within the two districts of Cachar and Sylhet.
The Assam valley is the more important of the two areas and employs more than twice as many workers. The system of recruitment for Assam is governed by the Assam Labour and Emigration Act which imposes restrictions not to be found in any other part of India. The question of recruitment for Assam has a long history and, as it raises problems which are peculiar to Assam, we deal with it separately in the following chapter.