Published: February 21st 2010February 19th 2010
As you approach Munnar from Periyar, the rolling hills are covered with tea planets that are arranged in rows that appear like scales on a reptile’s skin. Interspersed between rows of scales in the reptile's skin are various types of tall trees that help shade the tea leaves from the hot sun.
The tea plants would grow into trees if allowed but they are pruned to a height of about 3 feet once every three years so they remain short enough so workers can harvest the leaves as they walk down the rows of tea leaves.
Our driver Jacob, said that the land is all under a 999 year lease to the Tata family. He said that 16000 people live on and work the land. They are paid about 100 rupees per day ($2.25) per worker plus their living accommodations, food, and clothing. There is also free medical and school for the children. They are required to work until they are 45 years old to receive a full pension. As Jacob put it, “When you work in the tea fields all day, your body has no energy after 45 years.”
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