Cash-strapped Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation to halve cultivation to 5,000 acres

TANTEA's financial woes came to light recently when more than 500 temporary workers, involved in plucking tea leaves in Gudalur, were terminated in two months.

Published: 13th July 2022 05:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2022 05:09 AM   |  A+A-

tea estates, tea gardens

Image used for representational purpose.

Express News Service

COIMBATORE: The Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited (TANTEA), established in 1968 by the then chief minister M Karunanidhi in Gudalur, Coonoor, Kotagiri (The Nilgiris) and Valparai (Coimbatore), to rehabilitate Sri Lankan repatriates is in deep financial crisis.

Weighed down by the burden, the corporation has decided to reduce tea cultivation from 10,000 to 5,000 acres and reduce production and other costs. TANTEA's financial woes came to light recently when more than 500 temporary workers, involved in plucking tea leaves in Gudalur, were terminated in two months.

The workers and their association are up in arms against TANTEA's decision, where 4,500 people are employed, including permanent workers and staff. Workers said the corporation was struggling to pay salaries on time. According to sources, the corporation has made profits only in three years in the past 15 to 20 years.

In 1997-98, 1998-99 and 2020-21, it made a profit of Rs 30 crore, Rs 35 crore and Rs 7 crore respectively. The accumulated loss of the corporation is about Rs 240 crore, excluding the lease amount to the forest department and bank loans.

TANTEA MD TV Manjunatha told The New Indian Express, "We are working to revive the corporation and it may take six months to one year. Considering this, we have planned to reduce the cultivation area. We will engage one worker per acre, according to the guidelines of the United Planters’ Association of Southern India and will double production per acre up to 6,000 kg, by properly maintaining the garden."

Further, he said TANTEA has sought Rs 29 crore from the State government to provide retirement benefits.

Give workers two acres each, MLA urges CM

Citing the TANTEA financial crisis, Gudalur MLA Pon Jayaseelan urged CM Stalin to give permanent tea estate workers two acres on lease or powers over the land to protect their livelihood. "A total of 9,000 workers and 480 officers worked initially. Over the last two decades, the number of workers reduced to 4,000. If given land, the workers can cultivate crops," Jayaseelan said.


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