Former royal family moves Kerala court against Tata Tea

April 6th, 2008 - 9:10 pm ICT by admin  

Kochi (Kerala), April 6 (IANS) The Poonjar royal family has moved court to get back its land which is currently on lease to Tata Tea and to Kannan Devan Hills Plantations Company. Addressing reporters here Sunday, P. Sundararajan, husband of Revathinal Kanakamani Thampuratti of the Poonjar royal family, said the notice has been served to the two parties Jan 7 this year and a civil suit was filed in the Devikulam court March 28.

“We plan to initiate a joint venture for developing Munnar with interested parties, once we recover the land,” said Sundararajan.

After the press conference, a website, which gives the entire history of the landholdings, was launched.

According to the website, the Travancore government’s commissioner John Daniel Munroe approached the Poonjar royal family July 11, 1877, and executed a lease agreement No. 733 of 1877 with Poonjattil Koickal Rohini Thirunal Kerala Varma Valiya Raja, paid security deposit of British Rs.5000, and agreed to pay annual lease rent of British Rs.3000 for the leased land of 136,600 acres.

In 1895, it was bought over by a British company James Finlay & Co, which owned it till 1977 when Kerala took over the land under the Land Reforms Act and the Kannan Devan Hills Resumption Land Act.

After keeping 70,522 acres, the government gave the remaining 57,359.14 acres to Tata Finlay Ltd., which was acquired by Tata Tea in 1983.

The royal family claims that it cancelled the lease agreement, which was inked way back in 1877.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achutananandan has been demanding that the excess land under Tata Tea be recovered and even went ahead by launching a survey to assess its current land holdings.

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