Neyveli and lignite

This post is prompted by reading the archives of The Hindu – This Day That Age column that never fails to rake up some associations and conversations.

Bulk samples of lignite from the Neiveli Lignite Project have been sent to Germany for detailed test and analysis. The testing will be done by the well-known Lurgi firm. The results are expected to be received in about three or four months. …After the results of the pumping tests are known, a final project report will be drawn up, indicating the component schemes to be launched for the utilisation of the lignite in various ways.

For many years of my life I could never dis-associate the words Neyveli and Lignite. Neyveli – an otherwise dot on the Tamizh landscape hit gold when they found brown coal (or lignite). Lignite of course is supposed to be one of the worst fuels that can be used.

But it has meant employment for an entire town. The Neyveli Lignite Corporation is the centre of everything in this city. For me, Neyveli has a special relevance because some of my family is settled there, and their history is deeply tied with that of the Corporation’s. My grand-aunt who lived there would come every year to Madras (where we would be with our Grandma for the summer vacations) with big jackfruits. Big, ripe jackfruits – oozing with all that goodness that was supposed to give little kids tummy-aches if had in big quantities. I can proudly tell you that despite polishing off ENTIRE jackfruits in a single setting, neither me nor my cousin ever had the proverbial tummy-ache.

The NLC was all-pervasive. It took care of housing, health and community services. That they did a shoddy job of it quite frequently is another story. In a discussion in a classroom some years back, I remember listening to a passionate debate about how the Socialist model adopted by the Corporation then ensured that the town did not really develop as a centre for anything else. In retrospect it also developed very differently from the other mining/ points of industrial production towns like Jamshedpur. But Neyveli in turn fed development and aided the growth of urban centres in Tamil Nadu, never quite developing to the scale of Jamshedpur.

Anyhow, a dusty town is remembered thanks to an archive report that traces the genesis of a huge organisation and the foundation of a town that fuelled development in an entire state and thousands of mills. Feel free to share Neyveli/ other township stories if you have any. 🙂

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0 Responses to Neyveli and lignite

  1. km says:

    Too much jack-fruit does give you tummy-ache. Try balancing 5 or 6 of them on your tummy and you will know what i mean…

    Is the factory-town extinct in India? One doesn’t hear of new small towns. It’s still Nevyeli, Jamshedpur, KGF etc.

    How’s the Xmas weekend looking?



  2. ontheface says:

    Niha, I can’t find your email address. Send me a quick note to – please, darling. I want to ask you something.


  3. I am not an avid Jack Fruit eater so no comments on that. As for the factory-towns, I guess they have done great good to lots of places like Jamshedpur, Nevyeli, KGF etc but no more. The sad part is that when such facotry or minig areas get closed due to Government order, the whole town stands still, they feel like becoming orpaned. They feel paralysed and the whole town becomes grief-stricken. It takes a long time for the towns to come to terms with the reality and look for other pastures to earn their bread and butter. Government does no help to relocate those people.

    Now such towns coming up in the country have reduced given that there are better business avenues available(less risk , high gain) and secondly , that the most prominent areas have already been explored, and so it requires more research and analysis to find a new gold mine. But there is a HUGE growth in the Oil sector and that should develop the whole township like Krishna-Godaveri basin and other such places adding a new chapter to the Factory-towns in this country.

    I prefer mangoes to jack-fruit, anytime 🙂



  4. NaiKutti says:

    yeah, not many industrial towns lately!!… jamshedpur is different because it is like a totally private place, where the role of government is almost negligible… buy neyveli was a bit different where people would earn their money for their bread from the company but all services were government provided..

    but the jack-fruits are just awesome…:-)

    and, i would like ur views on my comment on the “more about the under-age maid”…plz…


  5. Abi says:

    Neyveli brings to my mind just two words: Jawahar Vidyalaya. It has now developed a reputation for being an assembly line for producing top notch students who are all over India.


  6. Wicked Angel says:

    For some reason the word Neyveli reminds me of the treasure trove of kids magazines I found in my great grandmum’s cupboard years ago. I think they were magazines probably from the 40s and had ads for the lignite in them. I had a great summer reading those magazines, got to try and remember the name of the publication and also the brand name of this lignite which they were advertising. I am sure my dad must know, got to ask him.


  7. Wow.. Suprised to see a post on Neyveli. It is indeed a completely different place to live. Compared to the arid surroundings, one would feel it to be much plush and greenier.

    Abi, Jawahar School used to have the reputation of being ‘assembly line’ in the eighties, but overall the educational scene in Neyveli itself can be seen in a better light now.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Hallo, I am dutch and remember best the swimming pool and the bowling court of the NLC between 1966 and 1969 when I did the groundwaterinvestigations for the UNDP project there.
    Indeed the best jackfruit over there!!
    Who remembers still mr. Baratan??
    (NLC) and who my counterpart mr.Loganathan, then with the PWD in Madras or Chennai as I should say now.

    Arend Bosscher, Lindenstrasse10
    48455 Bad Bentheim, GERMANY