Tamil Nadu govt report sought on plan to rehabilitate Manjolai estate workers

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Monday directed the state government to file a report on its plan to rehabilitate the Manjolai tea estate workers.

A division bench of Justices R Suresh Kumar and G Arul Murugan heard a batch of petitions, including two new petitions. A new petition, filed by one E Rosemary, sought the state government to take over the estate and operate it through the Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation Limited (TANTEA) and provide four hectares of land for the workers to cultivate on their own.

In another petition, Puthiya Tamilagam president Dr K Krishnasamy sought the cancellation of VRS opted by the workers, and assign land to the workers as per the Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act.

The counsel for the Bombay Burmah Trading Corporation Limited stated that 25% of the VRS money had been deposited in the accounts of the workers, and the remaining is ready for payouts. However, the counsels of the petitioners asked for rehabilitation of the workers and allocation of land as the workers were forced to accept VRS. The state counsel sought time to discuss.

Taking into account the submissions, the court directed the state to file a report on the plan to rehabilitate the workers and said the court’s earlier interim order on the non-eviction of workers from the estate can be maintained as status quo.

The court also directed the company to deposit the remaining 75% of the VRS money to the Assistant Commissioner of Labour (Plantation) in Nagercoil. The workers can submit their request to the authority and withdraw the amount. The case was adjourned to July 22.

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