Situation requires an unconventional and pragmatic solution, says Jayalalithaa

The Tamil Nadu government is ready to buy the five per cent stake that the Centre is planning to shed in the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) through one or more of its public sector undertakings, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa said on Tuesday.

Coming at a time when tempers are running high over the disinvestment decision, Ms. Jayalalithaa’s suggestion may help the Union government go ahead with the proposal without ruffling the feathers of trade unions and political parties.

Reiterating her opposition to the divestment proposal, announced by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs a few days ago, the Chief Minister, in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the decision had created anxiety and uncertainty in the minds of NLC workers and the local people.

Almost all trade unions proposed to go on an indefinite strike from July 3.

“I am afraid this unrest may spread and continue for a long time, leading to the eventual shutdown of the power plants in Neyveli,” she said. For a State already reeling under power scarcity, such a situation would hurt the economy and cause great hardship to the people, she added. She said there was also apprehension that the disinvestment would be carried out under the recently amended “Offer for Sale” methodology prescribed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), under which disinvestment could be executed with just one day’s notice.