The Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corporation (TANTEA) which was cultivating tea in an area of 10,000 acres has cut short its cultivation to half in the wake of acute financial crisis.
Senior officials of the TANTEA told IANS that the organisation was reeling under financial crisis and the only possibility of saving it is to reduce its plantation area to half. The overheads and other expenses can be brought down if the plantation is cut short to half, the officials said.
Formed in 1968 by the then Chief Minister A M. Karunanidhi to repatriate the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, the TANTEA is now in acute crisis and had made a profit only thrice in the past 15 years.
An official with the corporation said that it made Rs 30 crore in profits in 1997-98, Rs 35 crore profit in 1998-99 which dipped to Rs 7 crore in 2020-21. According to officials, the accumulated loss of the corporation is around Rs 240 crore.
Workers of the TANTEA and the unions are stiffly opposed to the reduction of cultivation area and around 4,500 workers have demanded that the management revert the decision and cultivate tea in the total cultivable area. It may be noted that the TNETA has land spread across Coonoor, Gudalur, Kotagiri, and Valparai.
In a recent order, the management terminated the services of 500 temporary tea pluckers from its Gudalur plantation. This brought in the open the fact that TANTEA is in an acute financial crisis.
Officials in TANTEA told IANS that it may take six months to one year for the company to be back on track and has asked for 29 crore assistance from the state government.
The Tea Corporation is also planning to employ a worker per acre and to increase the production to 6000 kg of tea leaves per year. With one of the most prestigious companies in Tamil Nadu facing an acute financial crisis, state government sources told IANS that the government has to take a decision to bail out the company.