Planters’ apex body Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA) has repeatedly requested the State Government to provide uninterrupted three-phase power supply, broadband, good roads, and well-equipped hospitals to improve the living conditions in plantation areas of Chikkamagaluru, Hassan, and Kodagu.
The planters’ body has also asked the Government to exempt electricity tax for captive generators as power supply to the plantation areas is intermittent and not dependable. An improvement in electricity supply would also help in operating irrigation pumpsets, coffee pulpers, and machinery and various equipment and instruments at tea factories in the region, it said.
The Government also has to allocate sufficient funds towards repairing and maintenance of roads passing through the plantation districts, planters demanded.
The apex body further asked for upgrading district hospitals in the plantation districts to superspeciality hospitals equipped to handle serious illness, injuries, and emergencies instead of patients sending patients away to hospitals in Bengaluru, Manipal, Mangaluru, or Mysuru.
According to the KPA, the cost of inputs such as fertilizer and chemicals, labour wages, social and statutory benefits, and power have shot up over many years. “The cost of coffee production has been going up in the range of 10 to 15% every year. Labour wages alone constituted 60 to 70% of the total cost of plantation expenditure,” said KPA chairman S. Appadurai.
Along with other demands, the KPA also sought subsidies for plantation owners bordering forests to put up solar fences to protect plantations and people from wildlife conflicts. The KPA comprises plantation owners and growers of coffee, tea, pepper, cardamom, and rubber.