Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami announced on Sunday that the Government would enact a special law to declare the Cauvery delta region a protected agricultural zone so as to block the Centre’s proposal to set up hydrocarbon projects there.
Laying the foundation for a 900-acre cattle park in his native Salem district, the Chief Minister said the law would be drafted in consultation of experts and it would be adopted by the Assembly. Allaying the fears of farmers that drilling oil and gas exploration wells for extraction of oil and methane gas in the fertile land will lead to seepage of sea water and depletion of groundwater, besides polluting the atmosphere, the Chief Minister said these hydrocarbon projects would never be allowed by the Government.
The farmers renewed their agitation after the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) gave its nod to Vedanta last year for drilling 274 exploratory wells in the Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam and Villupuram, Puducherry and Karaikal, as well as carry out seismic surveys in the hydrocarbon blocks.
Cairn Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited, got the preliminary clearance to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for its proposed off-shore and on-shore oil and gas and appraisal projects in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Both the States have opposed the proposed project.
The Chief Minister’s announcement was immediately welcomed by C Maniarasan, who is heading the delta farmers protection committee.
The livestock market for which the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone is touted as Asia’s biggest. It will have latest technologies on animal husbandry and dairy farming so as to give additional income to the farmers.