A group of tribal workers of the Priyadarshini Tea Plantation, under the aegis of the Congress Vythiri Mandalam Committee, encroached on plantation land at Lakkidi on Sunday morning and erected huts demanding two acres of land for each tribal family and job opportunities for them.
T. Nazar, president, Vythiri Mandalam Congress Committee, said the tribal workers in the Lakkidi unit of the plantation had been leading a wretched life since the tea plantation closed in 2005.
The Priyadarshini tea plantation, the second biggest tribal rehabilitation project in Asia, was started in 1984 as part of the 20-point programme of the Union government at Pancharakkolly, near Mananthavady, to rehabilitate freed bonded tribal labourers in the district by starting a cooperative society exclusively for them.
When a unit of the plantation opened at Lakkidi on 50 acres of the 247 acres of land under the plantation in 1996, as many as 18 tribal families were relocated to the new site by giving them job opportunities, Mr. Nazar said. Though the main unit of the plantation at Pancharakkolly reopened in 2008 after many agitations, the successive governments were yet to consider reopening the Lakkidi unit, he said.
“If the government fails to solve the issues of the tribal workers, the agitation will be intensified in the coming days,” he said.