Demolition drive leaves Tamil Nadu village tense

September 13th, 2008 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Cuddalore (Tamil Nadu), Sep 13 (IANS) Tension prevailed near this southern Indian seaside town Saturday as villagers objected to the demolition of their homes by the public sector Neyveli Lignite Corp (NLC), official sources said.Trouble arose when NLC officials demolished about 50 houses in a colony in Sethiathope, 10 km from here, to augment lignite mines - an act vehemently objected to by villagers who blocked traffic, witnesses said.

A 600-strong posse of policemen arrived to diffuse the situation, the witnesses added.

Tempers ran high despite NLC officials’ assurance to look into the demands of the protesting villagers, including adequate compensation and employment to one family member from each dwelling.

No arrests were made.

An NLC spokesman, pleading anonymity, said the villagers were out to blackmail the public sector unit after having agreed to the demolitions as long as 180 days ago.

“Measures, however, are under way to settle the issue amicably with police help,” the spokesman added.

State government officials helping NLC mandarins find a way out of the impasse said the matter would be solved as the residents only wanted to ensure proper compensation and jobs for family members.

Residents of Neyveli have been complaining that despite assurances to the contrary, those who parted with their land to the public sector corporation were neither compensated properly nor given jobs.

And most of those who were given jobs have not been made confirmed employees, say inhabitants of the area.

The charge is denied by NLC.

Besides being accorded adequate compensation for acquired lands, the family members of all those who sold their real estate to the corporation have been given employment commensurate with their vocational training and qualifications, said an NLC statement.

Recently, over 13,000 contract workers employed at the corporation had struck work demanding compensation to a worker who died in an accident while at work.

The strike was called off two days ago.

Political parties based around Neyveli have often placed the corporation in a difficult position over labour and real estate disputes. Some parties have demanded that the entire power generated from NLC be given to Tamil Nadu to tide over its present electricity crisis.

Situated 230 km south of state capital Chennai, Neyveli supplies roughly 15 percent of Tamil Nadu’s electricity needs besides contributing sizeably to the southern power grid.

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