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Farmers protest NLCIL’s expansion in Neyveli, demand halt to operations | India News


Widespread protests have started in Tamil Nadu’s Cuddalore district over the acquisition of farmland by Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Limited (NLCIL), a public sector enterprise. Farmers, backed by opposition political parties such as the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), and the Tamil Nadu BJP, have criticised the forcible acquisition of lands and destruction of standing crops.

Opposition parties have demanded compensation according to current land rates, rehabilitation packages, and a job for a member of each affected family. A top NLCIL official who spoke to The Indian Express said it is taking possession of lands previously acquired for its expansion activities.

“The land in question was bought between 2006 and 2015 in six villages near the opencast mines,” the official said.

Two days ago, PMK organised agitations which escalated into violent incidents after their leader, Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, was detained by police. As the protests built up, the Madras High Court on Friday directed the Cuddalore district police to ensure NLCIL’s safety and has asked for a detailed report. The NLCIL also filed a writ petition against NLC Jeeva Oppandha Thozhilalar Sangam, a trade union, to prevent an illegal strike.

Surrounding areas of NLCIL like Valayamadevi, Karivetti, and Kathazhai in the Cuddalore district, are facing protests. From 2006 to 2015, NLCIL purchased 304 hectares in the area, equivalent to over 750 acres, to extend operations. Neyveli is home to one of India’s largest lignite deposits.

Of this, 273 hectares were put to use while 31 hectares were left unused.

Owners of the unutilised area, continued cultivating these lands despite official ownership lying with NLCIL. However, on July 26, bulldozers arrived to clear these fields, leading to widespread protests.

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NLCIL maintains that it compensated most landowners with amounts between Rs 2.4 lakh to Rs 6 lakh per acre. Tamil Nadu’s Finance Minister, Thangam Thennarasu, announced additional aid of Rs 75 crore to around 1,088 landowners, with NLCIL pledging an extra Rs 30,000 per acre for crop loss compensation.

The farmers argue that NLCIL purchased excessive land beyond their mining needs and demand that the 2006-set compensation rates be updated to current values. The issue has been further complicated by NLCIL’s plans to reroute a 1.8 km stretch of the Upper Paravanar canal in Valayamadevi for the Mines III project.

P R Pandian, a renowned farmer’s leader from Cauvery delta and head of the Tamil Nadu All Farmers’ Coordination Committee urged the government to compensate for the destroyed crops and provide time for cultivation until September.Pandian mentioned the court’s questioning of the company’s failure to fence the acquired land and condemned the planned diversion of the Upper Paravanar river.

 





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