We have not encroached any land: Tata Tea official


Thiruvananthapuram : Tata Tea managing director P.T. Siganporia Sunday categorically denied the charge repeatedly made by Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan that the Tata Group firm had encroached government land in the hill town of Munnar.

Support TwoCircles

“We, the Tatas, are not one to keep with us or encroach upon any land which is not ours. We do not hold even an inch of land that does not belong to us and we will never do that also,” Siganporia told reporters here.

He added that a government survey completed in 2001 and the admissions before the Lok Ayukta had shown that the encroachment allegations were baseless.

“In fact, a shortage of 278.23 hectares in our holding was brought to light,” said Siganporia.

The Tatas say they possess 58,741.82 acres of land, which they are allowed to retain under the Kannan Devan Hill (Resumption of Lands) Act, 1971. Achuthanandan, on the other hand, has been saying for the past five years that the company possesses thousands of acres more than that.

The chief minister went to Munnar July 3 and led an operation in which extra land allegedly encroached by Tata Tea was “recovered”.

However, Siganporia said that the land “reclaimed” never belonged to the Tatas and it was the property of the state forest department.

“Recently government officials uprooted hundreds of tea bushes growing on the road margins for decades. According to the agreement with us, if the government wishes to take this (part of land) for road widening, they should give us three months’ notice but they gave just three days’ (notice) and uprooted bushes to show us that we are encroachers, which is wrong,” said Siganporia.

“We are willing to cooperate with the government and we have written to the government on several occasions,” he asserted.

He also added that the Achuthanandan government’s moves would send out a negative signal to prospective investors.