Tea Garden

Kerala Cabinet is struggling to have a grip on the Harrissons Malayalam Plantations issue.

As the Cabinet could not arrive at a decision, it appointed a subcommittee nearly three weeks ago to take ‘action’ against the plantation company.

The subcommittee has met more than thrice by now. The Advocate General himself was called in to provide legal advice in addition to those from the Law Department. But the allegations against the company remained a hard nut to crack.

There were reports in the media that the subcommittee has decided to survey the land located in various departments. However, Government sources did not give much currency to the report as the fate of earlier surveys is yet to be known.

It was after several surveys to determine the land in possession of the Tata Tea that a satellite survey was launched. But when the results came in, none could make out anything.

Aerial views and grass root level views are entirely different ball games. Who else than the politicians know that better!

It was 27 years ago that a law to modify the rights of grantees and lessees was passed by the Assembly. But the Kerala grants and Leases (Modification of Rights) Act is yet to be implemented. If implemented, several plantations would have to pay more than 250 times the lease rent they are paying now. (Current rents range from Rs. 1 to Rs. 5 a hectare while government companies pay Rs. 1300 a hectare).

None need expect that the Act could be implemented now. The exact extent of the leased land would have to be determined before the lease rent is revised. (Well, that is because many lessees hold more than what is in the old records!) The Government will have to stick to the old procedure (Kannadi survey) for the lessees would challenge satellite surveys in Court.

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