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Power generation at NLC comes to halt

Written by: Staff

Cuddalore, July 5: Power generation in the public sector Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) came to a grinding halt as over 20,000 employees began an indefinite strike last night, protesting the Centre's decision to disinvest 10 per cent of equity.

After the end of the second shift last night at 2200 hrs, the employees, who had launched a 'work to rule' agitation on July one, shut down units, stopping mining operations and power generation.

While generation of power in the first and first extension thermal stations, which produces 600 MW and 420 MW of power respectively, was completely shut down, power generation in the 1470 MW third thermal station was reduced to just 110 MW.

This would be gradually brought down to 50 MW to ensure power supply to hospitals, households and emergency services in the NLC township and to pump out water from the mines, Dhandapani, President of the DMK-affiliated Labour Progressive Front (LPF) said.

Stoppage of power generation would have its impact in all southern states, as NLC supplies power to Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile, shops in Neyveli downed shutters and schools and colleges remained closed as the town observed a day's bandh, expressing solidarity with the striking employees.

Vans and autorickshaws were off the roads, while public service transport maintained minimum service. The township wore a deserted look with all activities coming to a halt in view of the bandh.

As Chief Minister M Karunanidhi apprehended a serious law and order problem in view of the strike, the district administration pressed more than 3,000 police personnel into service. While over 2,000 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel were guarding all vital installations in the sprawling complex, state police drawn from neighbouring districts were assisting local police in maintaining the law and order situation.

To prevent any untoward incidents and ensure that anti-social elements do not take advantage of the situation, all employees had been advised to stay at home during the strike period, Mr Dhandapani said.

He said the NLC management had invited trade union leaders for talks, but they had refused, saying there was no point in holding talks. ''We are not interested in talks even if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invites us,'' he said, adding, the employees would relent only if the Centre withdrew its decision to divest.

Tension prevailed late last night as the management told about 100 executives to stay back after their second shift and forced them to work. They could be 'rescued'' only this morning, Mr Dhandapani said.

Meanwhile, expressing solidarity with the workers, about 1,000 volunteers of the CPI(M) and CPI staged demonstrations at eight places in the district and courted arrest.


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