Call to hand over TANTEA estates to workers 

November 01, 2022 05:42 pm | Updated 05:42 pm IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

The Vivasayigal Thozhilalargal Munnetra Sangam (VTMS) has called on the State government to hand over lands that are under the control of the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation (TANTEA) to its estate workers. A petition calling for the same was handed over to the District Collector by State convenor of VTMS, M.S. Selvaraj, on Monday.

In the petition, the VTMS claimed that 2,000 people, who were employed in the TANTEA estates, were made redundant by the management that claimed that it was making a loss. The VTMS claimed that it was due to the mismanagement of TANTEA that it had suffered losses.

Estate workers, who had been employed for over 50 years, were being made to vacate the estate housing by the management, who were only releasing benefits if the workers vacated the houses they had been living in. Workers, who were also speaking out against the management, were being threatened and transferred as punishment, claimed Mr. Selvaraj.

He also claimed that the TANTEA management were urging residents to grow bamboo and fruiting trees as there were efforts being taken to reforest the estates that was driving negative human-animal interactions.

To ensure their welfare, the VTMS appealed to the government to hand over TANTEA lands to local estate workers, demarcating three acres per family. The VTMS already sent a list of 13 demands on behalf of the workers to both the State and Central governments, added Mr. Selvaraj. They also made the same requests to the Chief Minister, Principal Secretary and Forest Secretary among others, he added.

Conservationists stated that while the issue of settling the claims of Sri Lankan repatriates working on the tea estates was imperative, that much of the estates lie along crucial elephant and wildlife corridors that had already been severed due to farming activities, illegal mining and unplanned development. They said proper studies on elephant corridors need to first be undertaken by the government, and that estate workers as well as recent encroachers should be settled outside these crucial wildlife habitats.

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