The Tamil Nadu Government on Saturday cancelled a GO for a petrochemical project in the Cauvery delta region which has now been declared a protected agricultural zone.
Permission for the the refinery project in Nagapattinam and Cuddalore to be set up by the Hindustan Petroleum Refineries Corporation Ltd was given by the Edappadi Government in 2017. It even acquired over 57,000 acres in these two districts in the face of stiff resistance by a large section of farmers.
The Government only a few days ago declared the delta region as a protected agricultural zone in which no hydrocarbon projects will be permitted. The bill for this adopted by the Assembly early this week got the Governor's assent on Saturday and it was immediately gazetted thus giving it an immediate effect.
Following this, the Government rescinded a GO for the proposed petrochemical project as it is proposed to be set up in Nagattinam and adjoining Cuddalore both of which come under the protected zone. While Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam which form the core and have been included, certain blocks of Cuddalore and Pudukkottai have also been included. The law does not cover ongoing exploratory projects for oil and gas by the Vedanta group. It also exempts infrastructure projects like highways and ports. It however bars hazardous units like zinc, copper and aluminium smelters, sponge iron and steel plants and ship breaking projects besides exploration, drilling and extraction of oil and gas.
A 30-member committee headed by the Chief Minister with farmers on board will advise the government on further development of agriculture in the zone. The DMK, while welcoming the law, has said exclusion of ongoing projects is a major lacuna. Farmers from Tiruchi Karur who also depend Cauvery for irrigation feel left out.