KOCHI: Officials of Harrisons Malayalam Limited (HML) on Tuesday said that the company was being continuously singled out and victimised for no fault of its, leading to disruption of the day-to-day operations of its estates. HML chief financial officer Ninan Mathew at a press conference said that the company’s loss would further expand to Rs 40 crore by the end of the current financial year from the present Rs 25 crore, due to the disruptive activities of certain people with ‘vested interests’.
“The properties of HML are legitimately held, and the company has not violated any law as being alleged. The series of unilateral enquiries over the past few years into the landholdings of the company, and the erroneous reports and findings by the Revenue Department have led to adverse media publicity, casting aspersions on the operations of the company. This has resulted doubt among the public over the landholdings of the company, resulting in incidents of trespassing into the estate lands. Such developments have seriously affected the business of the company, which has 33,000 shareholders. The company is finding it extremely difficult to carry on with its day-to-day operations,” said HML vice-president (legal) V Venugopal.
He said that HML was the single-largest employer in the private sector in Kerala, employing around 13,000 people in rural Kerala, mostly women. More than one lakh people, family members of the employees, are dependent on the company for their livelihood. “Government actions on HML lands under the Kerala Land Conservancy Act are on the wrong assumption that HML lands are government lands. But, no court has ever held that HML lands are government lands.
Tree felling has been banned in the company’s estates, thereby bringing the replanting operations to a standstill and disrupting development. The company is singled out and victimised by collecting huge amounts as seigniorage on the rubber trees felled and removed for replanting purpose. Land tax has not been accepted on the company’s lands for the past two years, and possession certificates are not issued to the estate lands, although the company has been in absolute possession of the lands for almost 100 years,” said Vinayraghavan C, a senior official of HML.