Kerala

Rains that shower misery on lives on estates

The bad condition that the tea factory at Lonetree under the Peerumade Tea Company in Idukki is. The estate remains closed for nearly two decades.  

Come the rains, life in the closed tea estates in Peermade taluk turns risky with no annual repair works done for years to the workers’ quarters.

As one enters the two divisions of Cheenthalar and Lonetree in Peerumade Tea Company, which remained closed for nearly two decades, the stark reality of life is evident.

The two factories are nearing collapse. Many estate bungalows have already disappeared.

The condition of the lanes (quarters) that were single-line buildings built during the early plantation period are in shambles.

A large number of workers left to their native places after the estate was closed. However, those who had nowhere to go remained in the rooms of the estate lanes that had not given away. They eke out a living by plucking the green leaves under the monitoring of the local trade union leaders. Some of them also work outside the plantation area.

The closed tea estate divisions in Peerumade taluk are Cheenthalar, Lonetree, Bonami and Kottamala. As per the estimate of the Labour Department, there are 369 families remaining in the lanes of the plantations that are not functioning.

The details were collected as per the direction of the government in an effort to reopen the closed tea estates two years ago.

A local trade union leader at Lonetree said there was hope of reopening the estate.

However, it was not easy, he said, adding that nearly five years ago, the estate was given on lease. The new management also abandoned it.

Many workers died without even getting their pending wages or any other allowances.

No place to go

Those remaining in the estate lanes were with no other houses or places to go, he added.

Manikandan, a worker at Kottamala, said that he engaged himself in odd jobs. However, with the rainy season in, there was no work. The COVID-19 worsened the situation. Some of the workers living in the estate quarters covered the roof with plastic to escape the rains. “However, when the building itself falls what could we do?” he added.

“Earlier we moved to rooms in the lanes that were unoccupied and were in better condition. Now no such rooms are available,” he said.

For reopening the closed estates, huge investment is needed and it might be a reason for failing the efforts.

If the government came with a proper plan, it might be possible, said Siva, son of an estate worker at Lonetree.


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Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 10:52:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rains-that-shower-misery-on-lives-on-estates/article35528891.ece

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