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Thursday, Apr 07, 2011
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CUDDALORE: The newly created Neyveli constituency, having strategic importance on account of the existence of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation, is going to polls for the first time. Neyveli, that has all along been part of either the Panruti or Kurinjipadi or Vriddhachalam constituencies, has now become a separate entity. It has the lowest voter presence of 1,66,077, including 85,486 men and 80,591 women, in Cuddalore district.
Yet, the Neyveli Township has a considerable chunk of electorate, numbering about 55,000 to 58,000, almost one-third of the total electorate in the segment. Obviously, the preference of the residents of the Neyveli Township, termed as a “mini-Bharat” because of its multi-ethnic and multi-lingual population, would be the deciding factor in the outcome of the elections.
Neyveli Township has become the hub of activity as it provides employment to 14,000 regular staff and 13,000 contract workers in its open cast mines and thermal power stations.
The trade union activism is quite pronounced here and land providers too have become a force to reckon with because of their assertive nature, of late. The socio-economic development of peripheral areas, therefore, is directly linked to the performance of the NLC, which has embarked on an ambitious expansion mode across the country.
Hence, the residents of the Neyveli Township and its environs value industrial peace more than anything else. However, when it comes to protection of public sector enterprise status of NLC, the trade unions, political parties and local community stand united.
However, the contentious issue that has been dogging the NLC management has been the size of compensation and nature of jobs to be given to land providers, particularly when it needs vast tract of land for augmenting lignite production and power generation to meet the insatiable demand.
The trade unions and political parties whip up this issue time and again to the disenchantment of the NLC management. The PMK and its trade union wing, Pattali Thozhir Sangam (PTS), have come to the fore in upholding the rights of the employees and land providers.
PMK candidate T. Velmurugan (sitting Panruti MLA) had spearheaded many agitations, raised the issues in the Assembly and also succeeded to some extent in obtaining compensation. He is now backed by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and its trade union Labour Progressive Front (LPF).
Incidentally, the LPF and the PTS are the only two recognised unions that can sit across the table with the NLC management representatives to thrash out the labour issues. It is the view of the local community that they would favour a candidate, who would impress upon the government and the management the need to get things done, without harming industrial relations, and also pave the way for overall development of the region.
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