Ray of hope: TN CM declares Cauvery delta region a protected zone
Recently, Edappadi Palaniswami wrote to PM Modi opposing the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2019 which exempts hydrocarbon projects from public consultations.
In a move that will bring joy to farmers, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Sunday declared the Cauvery delta region as a protected agricultural zone and assured farmers that the AIADMK government would not allow any hydrocarbon project in the area.
The announcement comes at a time when the ruling party suffered a massive defeat in the December 2019 local body elections and were forced to take action due to persistent farmer protests.
“This is a long pending demand from all the farmers’ associations in the region. It’s a very welcome move but how far they will go to implement it is yet to be seen,” said Vimalanathan, a farmer from the Cauvery delta region.
“This announcement should be made into an act, only then we will be assured. We have a doubt whether this resolution is just an eye washing ahead of AIADMK’s last budget session,” he said.
The Cauvery delta region, which is also called the “rice bowl of the state”, includes Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Ariyalur, Karur, and Trichy districts of Tamil Nadu. The region has witnessed protests by farmers and opposition parties over various projects, including hydrocarbon extraction and oil exploration, since 2015. The Protected Agricultural Zone tag would require the state government’s permission to undertake projects.
Also, the announcement comes just weeks after the Chief Minister wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2019 which exempts hydrocarbon projects from public consultations. Although they are still waiting for a reply from the centre, the Tamil Nadu government has moved ahead with the latest announcement which will insulate the region from the EIA notification.
“In the delta region, apart from hydrocarbon or methane extraction projects, another big problem is sand mining. Illegal sand mining affects the livelihood of farmers and the groundwater is totally depleted,” said Vimalnathan.
“Farmers are expecting an assurance from the government that illegal sand mining should also be completely banned. We hope that this resolution passed by the government will also address this issue.”