The Assam government on Wednesday warned tea estates against selling land leased out to them, but said planters may be allowed to diversify by using such land for other industries.There had been reports of major tea estates and small tea growers selling leased land. Officials said about 20% of 3,07,080 hectares of land under tea plantation had been leased out by the government over the years.Replying to a question by BJP legislator Sanjoy Kishan in the Assembly on Wednesday, State Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said the government would consider proposals from planters to set up other industries on such land.Probe demanded“We will not tolerate sale of the land leased out to them specifically for tea cultivation. But we may approve proposals for diversification by the planters,” Mr Patowary said.Other BJP legislators demanded a probe into the allegations that tea estates had been selling land illegally. Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami too sought steps to protect the tea industry, which has been under pressure from increasing input costs and falling prices.Illegal sale of land was one of the factors why the government had last year toyed with the idea of de-leasing an acre of land in each of 792 registered tea estates for setting up schools. Another factor was the estate management’s indifference to a request for land to set up high schools for tea plantation workers.Tea estate owners were unhappy with the State government for not heeding their plea to increase the lease period to 10 years from one year now.