Madurai

Bring Manjolai tea estate under TANTEA: workers

The Manjolai tea estate workers who submitted a petition to Tirunelveli Collector Sandeep Nanduri on Monday.

The Manjolai tea estate workers who submitted a petition to Tirunelveli Collector Sandeep Nanduri on Monday.   | Photo Credit: HANDOUT

TIRUNELVELI

The Manjolai tea garden workers have appealed to the State government to continue to operate the tea estate even after it is acquired from the The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation, the present company maintaining the estate.

Since the tea estate being managed by The Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation (BBTC) at scenic Manjolai, Kaakkaachi, Naalumukku, Ooththu and Kuthiraivetti, all situated in the Western Ghats beyond Manimuthar Dam, have been re-designated as ‘core zone’ of the Kalakkad – Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) and the court has refused to extend the tea estate lease period beyond 2028, the tea gardens are to be acquired by the State government after expiry of the lease period if the lease amount fixed by the government is paid.

As the tea garden workers will lose their livelihood if the estates become the ‘core zone’ of the KMTR, they submitted a petition to Collector Sandeep Nanduri on Monday.

The petitioners said the BBTC, which cultivated cash crops such as tea, coffee, cardamom, pepper etc. on the 8,373.57 acres it had leased from Singampatti Zamin for 99 years, had hired labourers from Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kerala to work in the estate. When the Zamin’s land was acquired by the State government in 1952 following the abolition of Zamindari system in the country, the lease agreement between Singampatti Zamin and the BBTC also came to an end.

Apart from the estate, this area has post office, ration shop, high school, workers’ quarters, places of worship, forest department buildings, hospitals, tea processing units, tea estate administrative buildings etc. have been created for the benefit of the workers.

After the State government notified it as a part of the sanctuary, the BBTC administration has been asked to pay the increased lease amount arrears of ₹ 300 crore and the lease amount for the remaining period of 10 years (₹ 700 crore). If not, the BBTC would not be allowed to maintain the tea estate, it has been announced.

“Against this backdrop, we fear that we, the labourers, may be evicted from the tea estate and our livelihood will be wiped out. Hence, we appeal to the State government to bring the existing tea estates under the TANTEA (Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited) and continue to operate the estates as such as it will ensure unhindered livelihood,” the petitioners said.

They also said the district administration should take steps to relay the badly damaged roads to Manjolai and operate the bus to the tea estate which remains suspended after the small bus operated to Kuthiraivetti was attached by the court recently for non-payment of compensation to an accident victim.

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Printable version | Apr 9, 2020 5:06:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/workers-appeal/article23357455.ece

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