NLCIL row: Madras High Court fixes Rs 40,000/acre as compensation

It has also ordered the farmers to vacate the land by September 15 after completing harvest activities.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has fixed Rs 40,000 as compensation for the crops damaged per acre when the Neyveli Lignite Corporation India Ltd (NLCIL) recently attempted to take possession of the already-acquired land parcel at Valayamadevi in Cuddalore district. It has also ordered the farmers to vacate the land by September 15 after completing harvest activities.

Passing the interim order on Wednesday, Justice SM Subramaniam said, “Considering the fact that the petitioners sought Rs 80,000 per acre and the respondent (NLCIL) agreed to settle for Rs 30,000, this court has decided to fix Rs 40,000 as compensation for the crops damaged on each acre.” He also said the farmers and the NLCIL are equally responsible for the current situation.

The judge then directed NLCIL authorities to disburse the compensation to the affected farmers by August 6 and ordered the farmers to hand over the land parcel by September 15. “If any (law and order) situation is created by any person, the government is duty-bound to initiate all appropriate action to maintain peace,” the judge said.

He posted the matter to Monday for further hearing and passing final orders. Reacting to the court order, petitioner Murugan’s counsel K Balu said, “We prayed for Rs 80,000 compensation per acre. But, we accept the amount that the court has fixed.” 

Additional Solicitor General ARL Sundaresan appeared on behalf of the NLCIL. Meanwhile, Cuddalore Collector Arun Thamburaj filed a counter-affidavit on the issue, through Additional Advocate General J Ravindran. Stressing the dire need for mining lignite to carry on the power production, the collector said the cost of power is very competitive when compared to power plants in other parts of the country.

“The power availability has been on the decline due to a shortage of lignite at the plant since September last year. It was as low as 880 MW during May. This shortage of supply has put an immense financial burden on TANGEDCO. This will soon lead to additional tariff burden on the consumers in Tamil Nadu,” he added.

Expressing concern over the risk of the state being short of around 1,735 MW from January 2024, Thamburaj said Tamil Nadu might find it challenging to acquire adequate power during peak summer which might lead to load shedding.

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