NLC’s denial

Print edition : December 25, 2015

S.K. Acharya, CMD, Neyveli Lignite Corporation. Photo: S.S. Kumar

IN the wake of allegations against the NLC, Frontline contacted S.K. Acharya, Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD), NLC. He stoutly denied that the NLC pumped out water into the Paravanaru on November 9. “There was no pumping of water from the mines on that day. We did not pump any excess water from the mines. In fact, we held back the waters for one week,” Acharya asserted. After one week, “slow pumping of water was going on,” he said.

“In a situation where the area around Neyveli received about 44 cm of rainfall in 12 hours, you cannot blame the NLC,” Acharya said. He said he has explained what happened on that day to State Rural Development Secretary, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, and Cuddalore District Collector, S. Suresh Kumar. “Our position is that we did not pump water into the river,” the NLC CMD said.

Soon after the villages were flooded, the NLC distributed 30,000 food packets to the affected villagers, he said.

The NLC also donated Rs. 1 crore to the Tamil Nadu government to provide relief to the people of Cuddalore district. As part of its corporate social responsibility, the NLC had spent about Rs.13.75 crores in desilting and deepening the Walaja lake in the district in 2012-2013. The NLC had desilted many ponds too. “We will be desilting a lot of water bodies in future in the Cuddalore district because a situation like this should never arise again,” Acharya said.

Senior engineers of the NLC also asserted that it did not pump out excess quantity of water from its three open-cast mines on November 9 because there was no power supply at all on that day to the mines. An engineer explained: “These huge pumps are installed on pontoons. They are not like motor pumps to take water to the eighth floor of a multi-storeyed apartment. Each mine is three kilometres long and more than 80 feet deep. We were not able to pump out any water because there was no power supply to the mines. Earlier, the pumps had tripped as well. All the pumps were submerged in water. Taking out water from the mines is a tedious job. We are all technocrats. We will not spoil others’ lives.” He argued that there was no way the NLC waters could have reached Visur, one of the worst affected villages in the district.

T.S. Subramanian

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