HC lambasts BHEL for delaying jobs to land oustees

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Chennai, May 14 (UNI) The Madras High Court has lambasted the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited [BHEL] for a delay of more than 25 years in giving jobs to legal heirs of people whose lands were acquired for BHEL'S Boiler Auxiliaries Project at Ranipet in Vellore district.

While disposing of a batch of writ petitions, Mr Justice K Chandru rejected BHEL's arguments that the former landowners were paid the market rate by the state government and they could not seek jobs as a matter of right. ''In modern day governance, any large-scale displacement of traditional homeland of people must necessarily provide for rehabilitation to compensate their suffering.

It cannot be said providing the market value of the land will redeem the miseries of people who will be displaced from the land in which they were living for generations,'' he said.

The writ petitions relates to the acquisition of 1,389 acres of land for the BHEL project in 1981. By a Government Order (GO) dated January 27, 1981, the state had promised jobs to displaced landowners. Despite several rounds of litigations and agitations, many of the oustees are yet to get a call from the BHEL. In some cases, only temporary jobs with breaks were offered.

In March 2006, the BHEL, issued uniform orders rejecting job claims of oustees on various grounds.

Criticising the conduct of the BHEL and its ''lack of transparency'' in rehabilitation, Justice Chandru said since the company started processing the claims of candidates more than two decades after the acquisition, it should not cite overage as a reason to reject claims.

''The BHEL did not even ask its contractors to engage those displaced in their operation,'' he observed.

The High Court directed the Vellore District Collector to form a committee to process the claims of land oustees and settle the matter with BHEL within three months.


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