Tata Group may lose control over 942-acre tea estate in Karnataka

The Tata Group faces the prospect of losing control over a 942-acre tea estate in Karnataka’s Kodagu district, as the state government prepares to hand the lush-green plantation to the forest department in accordance with a local court judgement.

Tata Coffee’s petition to get the description of the land reversed to ‘redeemed sagu’ in revenue records from its 2008 entry as ‘forest’ was dismissed with cost earlier this month by senior civil judge Lokesha MG at Virajpet.

“The land is not under lease anymore. The RTC (records of rights, tenancy & crops) reflects the change, and we will formally hand over the land to the forest department on Monday,” Kodagu deputy commissioner BC Satheesha told ET.

In April 2008, the revenue authorities had changed the nature of the vast tea estate, under 
Tata Coffee
 NSE -4.50 %’s lease, as “forest land” from the earlier “sagu” land (cultivable land).

Tata Coffee is a subsidiary of Tata Consumer Products and Asia’s second largest exporter of instant coffee, with revenue of about Rs 2,289 crore, last year. It has coffee and tea plantations in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

The civil court in its December 3 order set aside the company’s legal challenge of the government’s action in changing the land description and reducing the lease period from 999 years to 99 years. The court told the petitioner that it could approach a revenue court to question the changes in revenue records.