COIMBATORE: Intimidated by the frequent invasion of elephants in tea estates, the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited (TANTEA) has surrendered nearly 128 hectares of its leased estate in Valparai to the Forest Department. In February last year, three permanent female workers at the TANTEA’s Ryan Tea Division in Valparai were trampled to death by wild elephants while plucking tea leaves. The following month another worker was killed by a jumbo.
Following this the TANTEA Managing Director wrote to the State Government seeking permission to handing over of Ryan Divisions (totally 127.95 hectares) back to the Forest Department, “citing the vulnerability of the area.”
The Managing Director, pointed out that there was acute shortage of workers in Ryan Tea Division. “He had informed us that 580 workers were available against the required 720 and the revenue loss would increase due to migration of workers to plains once younger plantations reach peak production.
The TANTEA Board Meeting held on March 31, 2011 also resolved to handover the vulnerable areas to the Forest Department,” a Forest Department official said.
Subsequently, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests accepted the proposal saying that the Ryan Tea Division should be taken over “for restoration of elephant corridor and also to prevent damage to life and property of TANTEA workers in and around the vicinity.”
The 127.95 ha estate land will now be used for maintenance of the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.
“Recently the State Government issued an order approving the surrender and takeover of the vulnerable land.
However, it has asked TANTEA to remit `97.85 lakh towards lease rent dues for 2010-2011,” the official said.