Tamil Nadu: CPI(M) Opposes Demand for Closure of NLC
Image for representational purpose. Credit: NLC
Chennai: Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has urged the Tamil Nadu government to revoke the mining lease granted to Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Limited (NLC), covering an area of 64,750 acres in Cuddalore district. PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss said NLC expansion is destroying agriculture in the region.
Ramadoss also demanded that the Tamil Nadu government urge the Union government to cancel the proposed third mining project in the region, stating that the region falls under a protected agriculture zone. He argued that the third mine would encroach upon an area of 12,125 acres, encompassing 26 villages in the Cuddalore district. “Among these villages, nine fall within the protected special agriculture zone, and the remaining are part of the Cauvery delta region. Establishing a mine in these villages would be in violation of the Protected Special Agriculture Zone Act,” he said.
On the contrary, Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) Tamil Nadu secretary K Balakrishnan has argued that the public sector undertaking [NLC] should be protected. “It should not be shut down or uprooted. It will affect the overall development of Tamil Nadu,” he said.
“The closure of the 3,500 MW power producing NLC will lead to power shortages, and we will be forced to buy power from private sources,” he added.
The discussion about NLC came to light on July 26, when the company took possession of the land located in Valayamadevi near Sethiyathope in Cuddalore district destroying paddy fields with earthmovers. The farmers strongly protested against the mining expansion.
MADRAS HC ORDER
An aggrieved farmer, Murugan, has filed a case in the Madras High Court seeking an order not to disturb the farmers till the harvesting is over in two months.
In its defence, the NLC has said that the land for expansion was acquired from the farmers between 2006 and 2013. The district administration has claimed that the farmers were asked not to sow seeds, but they continued agricultural work on the land.
The high court observed that both parties are equally responsible for the situation; the farmers should have suspended agricultural activity on the acquired land and the company should have fenced up the area.
Hearing the case on August 2, Justice SM Subramaniam ordered NLC to provide a compensation of Rs 40,000 for each acre of damaged crops and ordered the farmers to hand over the land after harvesting. Moreover, he said that the police department can take action to prevent law and order problems.
Notably, the protest called by PMK on July 8 turned violent with stone-pelting, and the party cadres were detained by the Tamil Nadu Police.
‘PROVIDE DUE COMPENSATION’
The news of damaging crops has brought to the fore a series of issues – such as poor compensation by the corporation for the land acquired in the past, and the unfulfilled promises of jobs and house-site pattas.
The NLC was founded 1956, and Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association committee president P R Pandian said that it was established with the consensus of the people and farmers, who believed that it would generate employment and add to the revenue. However, the promises made to the first group of farmers who provided land for the project remain unfulfilled, he said.
Moreover, the NLC contract workers are still protesting, while those who had given their lands are rendered unemployed, he said.
Members of the NLCIL Jeeva Contract Workers’ Union, affiliated with the AITUC, have been on strike since July 26 to press for their demands, including the regularisation of jobs as per their seniority in the NLCIL Industrial Cooperative Service Society (Indcoserve).
NLC has around 5,000 permanent and 12,000 society and contract workers.
Balakrishnan said, “During land acquisition, NCL should ensure that the rehabilitation and resettlement act is followed. For the past 50, years NLC has not been fair to the farmers while acquiring land.”
“In places like Vijayamanagaram, where people were promised house-site pattas 50 to 55 years ago, are still not provided the land deeds,” he added.
The CPI(M) leader urged the PSU to justly compensate for land from its profits. NLC has an annual profit of around Rs 1,500 crores.
PMK PROTEST TURNS VIOLENT
Party workers of PMK clashed with the police outside the NLC premises in Cuddalore district on July 28, during their protest against NLC’s acquisition of farmlands. The protesters hurled stones at the arch gate that leads into the NLC premises and at the police vehicles which were present at the protest site.
The PMK president Ramadoss, along with the party workers, also tried to allegedly force-enter the NLC premises by breaking through the barricades which were placed at the gate. To control the protesters, the police detained Ramadoss following which the party workers reportedly damaged the windshield of two police vehicles and hurled stones at the police.
The police then charged with batons, fired tear gas, and used water cannons to disperse the protesters. Police security has been beefed up in Neyveli following the protests.
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