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The DMK government which is keen on bringing new investments and industries to Tamil Nadu is facing protests demanding jobs for Tamils in the newly set up industries. Whether it be the expansion project of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation, private industries or the State government’s industrial park, the government is confronted with the same question — what is the use of industrial development without jobs for Tamils?

Neyveli Lignite Corporation is one of the Public Sector Units that has not provided enough jobs to Tamils despite using the huge lignite sources in Neyveli and polluting the area. Recently, the company appointed 299 engineers and none of them were from Tamil Nadu. When parties protested against the move, the NLC officials ignored the agitations. For this reason, the NLC’s second expansion project is facing stiff opposition from all parties, barring the ruling DMK.

The parties are strongly backing the demand of local people to provide jobs for their family members if they should give up their land for the project. The AIADMK’s protest is headed by its district secretary A Arunmozhithevan, while all the DMK alliance parties including the Thamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi, which is locally strong besides the MDMK, VCK and Communist parties held a protest rally demanding jobs for locals.

Thamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi leader and MLA T Velmurugan who organised the protest rally said the DMK administration should not cooperate with NLC’s efforts to measure the land for acquisition. The PSU has become a hub of North Indians, he alleged and demanded that jobs must be provided to the local people if the company wants land for expansion.

Recently, Neyveli Lignite Corporation appointed 299 engineers and none of them were from Tamil Nadu. When parties protested, NLC ignored it. For this reason, the NLC’s second expansion project is facing stiff opposition from all parties, barring the ruling DMK

PMK leader and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramadoss went a step further and demanded the closure of NLC, alleging that it was destroying the livelihood and environment of the area. All the vacancies in NLC at all levels — from engineers and officials to contract workers — are filled by people from other states, he alleged. The DMK which is known for Tamil identity politics is finding itself isolated on the issue and trying to find an amicable solution.

Another protest along similar lines was the agitations by Thamizdesiya Periyakkam led by P Maniarasan against the Tata Electronics Company in Hosur. The State government had to use police force to stop the protests on December 9 against ‘the injustice meted out to Tamilians’ by the company which brought its workforce from northern states ignoring the jobless youth in Tamil Nadu.

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Even when the qualification required is only Class XII or ITI, only 1,993 jobs were given to Tamilians out of the total 18,000 employment of the company, Maniarasan said. Even this employment to Tamils was provided only after the protests and intervention of State Industries Minister Thangam Thennarasu. The Minister assured that the company had promised to provide 80 per cent jobs to Tamilians but the protesters asked why the DMK government was relying on promises by private companies instead of fulfilling its election promise of 75 per cent jobs for Tamils in all private companies in the State. What is the purpose of bringing industries to Tamil Nadu and polluting its land, air and water when local people are denied employment, he asked.

In Annur, State BJP leader K Annamalai led the protest against the acquisition of agricultural land for the industrial park. Finally, DMK deputy general secretary and Nilgiris MP A Raja intervened to end the agitations. The protest was withdrawn after assurances that no agricultural land would be taken and that jobs would be given to the families of local people.

Even when the qualification required is only Class XII or ITI, only 1,993 jobs were given to Tamilians out of the total 18,000 employment of the company, Maniarasan said

The DMK has implemented one of its electoral promises of ensuring that jobs in Tamil Nadu government would be provided to Tamil people, by making a Tamil language paper compulsory for the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission examinations for job recruitment. But, the party is hesitant to implement its promise of 75 per cent jobs for Tamils in the private sector as it fears that such a move would hinder investment and setting up of new industries, and also lead to legal hurdles. However, Tamil nationalist parties are citing the steps being taken by the BJP-ruled States of Karnataka and Haryana to ensure reservation of jobs in the private sector for the ‘sons of the soil’.

In Karnataka, the reservation for Kannadigas in the private sector is part of the Kannada Language Comprehensive Development Bill proposed by the BJP government in the State. As per the law, special permission from the Karnataka government is essential if a company has less than 75 percent of local employees.

In Haryana, the BJP-led government had enacted the Haryana State Employment of Local Candidates Act, 2020, which provides 75 per cent of private jobs in the state to local people. The Act was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, but the stay was lifted by the Supreme Court with the condition that the State government should not indulge in coercive action till the final verdict is delivered.


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