Rs 2,500 crore Tata steels Titanium dioxide project seems to have run into rough weather, with several political parties and people of Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts in the backward southern Tamil Nadu, opposing it tooth and nail on the plea that the livelihood of thousands of families in the area would be affected.
On seeing the opposition from the public and political parties, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has put on hold the project and announced that he would be deputing a team of ministers and officials to discuss the issue with the people.
Tata's first major investment project in Tamil Nadu envisaged mining of ilmenete, titanium and garnet minerals found in abundance in over 11,000 acres in 47 villages in and around Sattankulam and Pudukulam in Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts.
It also envisaged setting up of a factory to produce Titanium dioxide in an area where no major industry, barring the Southern Petrochemicals's fertilizer plant, had come up.
Though the Tatas had signed a MOU with the Tamil Nadu government in 2002, when the AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa was in power, they could not make much headway on the project implementation as the file on the subject was lying with her for long.
Jayalalithaa had said she did not sign the file on the project as it would adversely affect the farmers in the area, which was disputed by Karunanidhi. He said she did not approve the scheme only to help some one close to her.