The way things are moving in Munnar reminds me of Don Quixote. The ploy of the politicos is clearly evident. The politicians’ want to divert the attention of the common man from the real facts by insinuating land grab by Tatas. Their protégés have gabbed prime land and the recent ruling by honourable high court has landed them in a fix. The Tatas have at no stage willfully occupied or encroached on land that does not belong to them. Tata administrative service runs much more efficiently than the IAS. Tatas have continuously reiterated that they will fully cooperate with any survey the Government plans, and that the Government is free to take over any excess land if the survey indicates so.
The politicos were speaking about 50000 acres of excess land held by Tatas. Several surveys including a satellite survey have been done. But there was absolutely no evidence of any excess land. What happened to the land? Vanished in to thin air? The Tatas are having the last laugh
The politicians are cleverly hiding from the general public that the Tatas exited from the plantations in Munnar in 2005. In 2005 Tata Tea transferred management control of 17 tea estates in Munnar to KDHP in which employees hold a 69 per cent stake. It is an establishment run by the workers now. Tata Tea continues to support welfare activities in Munnar such as a high school, a hospital and a complex for disabled people.
The brouhaha created about the checks dams is another matter that requires serious in-depth study. The check dams were built by the Britishers to provide drinking water to workers and rear fish. It is extensively used by the wildlife also. As the check dams had lost their initial strength it was rebuilt recently by Kannan Devan Tea Company. As KDHP had no money to spare in the initial years, the workers had tried to get financial assistance from the district panhayat to rebuild the dams. The reply from the authorities was that they cannot sponsor building of dams in private property. Yes, the area was clearly property belonging to KDHP and now suddenly the area has become Government land and the check dams have been given a cloak of new structure.
Over the past half a century the ecosystem has stabilized around the waterbody. In a clear cut case of trying to garner brownie points the politicos now want to demolish the dams and proclaim from the high ramparts that they have taken on the Tatas. What utter foolishness. Government has a right to control water sources. If they are that keen they should take over the check dams instead of demolishing them. Have a thought for the denizens of the wild also. They have no votes but that does not mean you can ride roughshod over their rights. Remember, there is lot of wildlife in the tea estates of Munnar.