As the strike by employees of Neyveli Lignite Corporation entered fourth day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to direct SEBI to quickly work out modalities on offering five per cent disinvestment in the Navaratna PSU to any of the state government undertakings.
"The Government of India should immediately accept my proposal to sell the minimum required equity under the relevant regulations to state Public Sector Undertakings of Tamil Nadu and also direct SEBI to quickly work out modalities of such a transaction", Jayalalithaa said in a letter sent to Singh.
She also voiced concern that due to labour unrest the entire South may be affected due to shortage of power.
The strike could have a "crippling impact" on the power availability in the state and in the hard work done by the Government to stabilise the power situation", she said.
"The delay on the part of the Centre will put the people of Tamil Nadu to extreme hardship, which I have tried very hard to avert by offering you a number of feasible alternatives to avoid disinvestment in NLC", she said.
Noting that Tamil Nadu has been a power deficit state, she said, "my Government has strained every nerve" to resolve the power crisis.
"The cumulative power shortage of 4000 MW left by the lassitude of the previous Government had to be tackled by my Government by systematically planning, executing and commissioning new projects.", she said.
Observing that several power projects -- Mettur Thermal Power project of 600 MW capacity, two units of the Thermal Power Project at Vallur of 500 MW capacity each and the North Chennai Thermal Power Project Unit II of 600 MW capacity, began "generating power", she said, "Tamil Nadu is now able to manage the power situation with least inconvenience to the people and industry".
At such a critical juncture, when the "herculean" efforts taken by the Government were stabilising the power situation in the State, the totally "uncalled for" stand of the Centre on a strategic issue of the shareholding in the NLC has forced a totally "avoidable strike" in the PSU, Jayalalithaa said.
Due to the labour unrest Tamil Nadu alone would lose its 1,178 MW share of power from NLC, she said, adding, the entire South would be affected by the loss of about 2500 MW, making the management of the Southern grid extremely difficult.
The proposal for disinvestment of NLCs equity has raised very serious apprehensions in the minds of the workers and has led to major labour unrest, she said.
"It is a matter of great disappointment to all of us that signalling to the financial markets took precedence over the welfare of thousands of workers and the deep felt concerns and apprehensions of the people of Tamil Nadu", she said.
By placing the immediate prospect of raising Rs 466 crore from the disinvestment in NLC above the aspirations of the people of Tamil Nadu to maintain the public sector character of Neyveli Lignite Corporation, we feel that the Government of India has displayed its "insensitivity", she said.
She also recalled her previous letters to Singh in which she had suggested the five per cent disinvestment from NLC could be offered to any of the state government undertakings --Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation, State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu and Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation.
"It is learnt that SEBI had formally offered to the Neyveli Lignite Corporation as one of the options, the possibility of arriving at a special procedure on a case by case basis for the off-loading of shares by the Government of India.
"I urge you to take a fresh look at the whole issue in the light of the viable suggestions which have already been made to you by me and to help avert this wholly avoidable crisis affecting the people of Tamil Nadu", she said.
Defying the Madras High Court orders, around 13,000 employees of the NLC commenced an indefinite strike on the night of July three protesting the Centre's decision to disinvest its stake.