Tata Tea Limited has sought the Kerala government’s permission to prosecute Idukki District Collector Ashok Kumar Singh for allegedly levelling a series of charges against it in the media on encroachment of government land.

The company, in a statement, said it had submitted two separate petitions to the Chief Secretary on February 22 and 24, stating that Mr. Singh’s allegations about them having illegally encroached on 50,000 acres of government land in Munnar was “false and highly defamatory”.

The petitions were based on a report in a Malayalam daily on October 29, 2008 and an interview he gave to a TV channel in Feb 2010, it said. Tata Tea said they sent two letters to him just after the story was published, asking him to confirm or deny what was attributed to him in the report, but had not yet got a response.

The report alleged that Tata Tea had illegally encroached on government land. Besides Mr. Singh was quoted as saying that “if illegal encroachment of Tata Tea is not stopped, the entire Munnar area would be degenerated”, the release said.

Tata Tea claimed that the company at present does not hold any plantation in the Kannan Devan Hills village.

It has “17 estates in Devikulam taluk, of which 16 and its allied departments were transferred to Kannan Devan Hills Plantation Company, a company formed by workers and staff of the estate from Mar 31, 2005. The Pallivasal and Periakanal estates were also later leased to KDHPC”, the release said.

Tata Tea said their activity is confined to managing three welfare centers — general hospital, higher secondary school and Shrishty welfare centre. This apart, they also manage an instant tea factory, a 100 per cent Export Oriented Unit, the company said.