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NLC land acquisition: TN leaders oppose Union govt's action

PMK president Anbumani Ramadoss also opined on the NLC issue and appealed to farmers and traders to support the party's protest against NLC's plan to acquire 25,000 acres of agricultural land for its mine expansion

NLC land acquisition: TN leaders oppose Union govts action
Edappadi K Palaniswami, Anbumani Ramdoss, Seeman

CHENNAI: Several party leaders of the State on Friday opposed the Union government's need to acquire 25,000 acres of prime farmland for the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) India Ltd, when it had announced last year, its intention to sell the public sector undertaking.

AIADMK interim General Secretary and Leader of the Opposition Edappadi K Palaniswami said that the NLC should abandon the land acquisition and a committee under the R&R Act should be formed and tripartite talks should be held with the Union government, NLC and the people who are afraid of losing their livelihood. "As important as the Neyveli thermal power station and its coal mine are to the country's electricity needs, so is the welfare of the people and farmers of Cuddalore district. It is painful that since 1956 when the NLC was established to till date, none of the needs of the people of the area, who have given land for its development, have been fully met."

"Realizing the importance of electricity given the country's industrial development, even though their interests are affected, the people who have given land for the sake of the country are still suffering. To alleviate the suffering of the people, the AIADMK raised its voice from time to time regardless of who was in power at the Centre. When the company offered to sell its shares to private individuals when the Congress-DMK alliance was in power, former CM J Jayalalithaa bought the shares on behalf of the Tamil Nadu government in an attempt to prevent a public sector company from going into private hands," the LoP said.

"From the year 2000 to till date, there is no adequate compensation for the land acquired for the expansion works of NLC and no employment opportunity for the families of the land providers. More and more announcements are being made to acquire agricultural land for various expansion works. At the same time, the AIADMK raised this issue in the State Assembly and drew the attention of the government to address the grievances of the people," the AIADMK leader said.

"On behalf of the AIADMK and the affected people, I strongly condemn the fact that yesterday (Thursday), the NLC administration engaged in the work of levelling the agricultural lands under the protection of hundreds of policemen, after imprisoning the land-owners, including the farmers in the area of ​​Valaiyamadevi in the Cuddalore district."

"During the 10-year rule of the AIADMK, the NLC administration was not allowed to acquire encroached lands in any way. But it is very painful that the NLC is supporting and 'singing lullabies' to the anti-people trend of the DMK in this 22-month rule. People have realised that DMK ministers of the Cuddalore district are playing a 'double role' in this matter. Doubts also arise that these 'incompetent' rulers who do not respect the people of Cuddalore district and the welfare of the farmers are engaging in such activities for their benefit," he opined.

"This government is engaged in suppressing the voice of the people, who are protesting against the brazen activities of the NLC, leaving its department, the police department, which is the height of dictatorship. NLC should immediately abandon the land acquisition for the third thermal power plant. The ruling DMK government ministers and officials should stop threatening the farmers every week and should hold tripartite talks with the Central government, NLC, and people who are afraid of losing their livelihoods. They also should form a committee under the R&R Act to resolve the issue, ensure the livelihood of agricultural labourers, who can work on the lands, and protect innocent people from harm. I urge Tamil Nadu government to take immediate steps regarding this issue," he concluded.

Seeman blames ruling govt

Naam Tamilar Katchi coordinator Seeman also opined on the NLC issue and said, "Neyveli Lignite Corporation's action of forcefully grabbing lands of poor people from villages around Neyveli for coal mine expansion is strongly condemnable. The ruling DMK government has used the police to expropriate the lands and arrest innocent agricultural tribals, which is an autocracy. The plight of indigenous Tamilians from villages around Neyveli, who gave up their lands to start the Neyveli Coal Company can now only work as mere labourers. To that extent, there is a tyrannical atmosphere in the Neyveli company where the north Indian people are dominant and there are no masters of the soil."

"The Neyveli Coal company continues to practice racial discrimination by not providing contract work to the families who have already been given land and not making the work of thousands of contract workers permanent and not providing work to Tamil youths who have completed vocational training. Why is the Tamil Nadu government helping to hand over the lands of the Tamil people at a low price to a company that is going to lay carpets for private individuals? The ruling government did not take any effort to get the rights of the Tamilians, who were deprived of Neyveli, only took away the lands of the Tamilians."

"What is the need to take thousands of acres of land by force when there is no use in the lands that have already been taken from the Tamilians ​​for coal extraction? In what way is it fair for the DMK ministers to force the NLC to give land to the Neyveli company, which refuses to accept the demand of the indigenous Tamilians ​​that they should provide appropriate compensation for the land and a government job to one of the families who is providing the land," he said.

"How can Tamilians ​​hand over their lands by trusting a soon-to-be-privatized company that refuses to provide proper compensation and permanent employment while still being a public sector company? It is the height of tyranny for the DMK government to threaten the farmers who refuse to hand over their land, to lock them up with the police so that they cannot come out, and to arrest and imprison them. Therefore, on behalf of the NTK, I urge the DMK government to stop the trend of arresting farmers who refuse to hand over their lands and to immediately release the arrested agriculturists without filing any case. Also, I request the DMK government to desist from the Neyveli Coal Company, which is about to be privatized, to forcefully expropriate the lands of the Tamil people," he added.

Anbumani Ramdoss calls for protest

PMK president Anbumani Ramadoss also opined on the NLC issue and appealed to farmers and traders to support the party's protest against NLC's plan to acquire 25,000 acres of agricultural land for its mine expansion. "PMK has announced a protest against the NLC's company that is taking away the lands of Cuddalore district farmers that the district administration is in support. Plans made by the NLC to control and level the land of the farmers in the Valaiyamadevi village and the repression unleashed by the district administration and the police in support of it are unnecessary. Yesterday's plays were staged on NLC's behalf and the district administration in the context that they can do whatever they want. The people of Cuddalore will not forgive them."

"Farmers are yet to receive due compensation for the majority of the land levelled yesterday in the Valaiyamadevi village. According to the NLC, the lands were acquired in 2006. Even if that is true, they have been offered only the then-announced price of Rs 6 lakh. An additional Rs 3 lakh announced to them is yet to be disbursed. Depriving the poor and middle-class farmers of their lands without paying the amount is the height of abuse of power," he said.

"For now, NLC is not going to set up mines in the levelled lands in the area. It will take at least 10-15 years to set up coal mines in that area. NLC has surplus land to that extent. But, after 15 years, NLC company and district administration have taken away the lands by piling the police force to pay an extra price if they are brought under control. Another reason given by the ruling government is that the lands were taken and levelled for flood prevention works and that's is a blatant lie," he added.

"Minimal land is required for the construction of the Paravanar flood control canal. However, the NLC company has ruined the land by cutting canals and digging trenches in them, claiming to take control of the land, which is much more than the required land. The reason for doing so was the intention that the cultivators should not use the concerned lands. If the NLC thinks that it can keep the farmers employed through such activities, it is bound to face a huge failure.

"To teach a lesson to the NLC and the district administration, who treat the farmers and the public as scumbags, the PMK party has announced a protest across the Cuddalore district tomorrow. This is not just a protest in support of the people affected by the NLC land grab but is a good-intentioned struggle to ensure that public houses and lands are not taken away in the coming years. Therefore, tomorrow's protest should be a huge success and that will put an end to the NLC and Cuddalore district administration's brutality in taking away innocent farmers' land," the leader opined.

"I request all the parties including charitable organizations, the public, youth, and students to give full support. The committee, which is holding the protest will also ensure that there is no disruption to the students, who are going to appear for the 12th CBSE public examination," he added.

It is reported that officials from the district administration and land acquisition wing of Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Limited (NLCIL) approached villagers about acquiring their land for an expansion proposal.

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