Tamil Nadu declares Cauvery delta a protected agricultural zone
Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Sunday said eight Cauvery delta districts of Tamil Nadu including the rice bowl, Thanjavur, will be categorised as a special protected agricultural zone and assured that permission will not be given for hydrocarbon projects.
Asserting that steps will be taken to enact a separate law to confer the protected status to the delta districts, he said here that only agro based industries will be encouraged on a need basis in the river Cauvery fed regions.
The Chief Minister’s announcement assumes significance in In the wake of continued opposition to projects like those involving hydrocarbon at places, including Neduvasal in Pudukottai district.
Apparently referring to opposition from farmers to oil exploration and extraction projects in the delta region, Palaniswami said he understood the travails of riots since he himself was a farmer. To guard the delta areas and end farmers’ ordeals, the special protection will be bestowed on Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagappattinam, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Karur and Tiruchirappalli districts, he said.
Making the announcement, he assured that permission will not be given for any new projects like those related to hydrocarbons. “We will not give permission for any project that may affect the livelihood of farmers,” he said.
Welcoming the announcement as a “victory,” PMK chief S Ramadoss said the decision would prevent desertification of the Cauvery districts and recalled that it was his party which had first voiced the demand and continued to press the plea all along.
Declaring Cauvery delta region as a protected farm zone was the primary demand when PMK aligned with the AIADMK for last year’s Parliamentary polls, he said.
“The benefits that have accrued for farmers are manifold. The future of farmers in the delta region will be bright,” he said. The Central government had said in 2017 that “...two contract areas, Karaikal (10.4 Sqkm) located in Puducherry and Neduvasal (10.0 Sqkm) located in Tamil Nadu awarded under DSF (Discovered Small Field) bidding round have an in-place volume of 4,30,000 metric tonne of oil and oil equivalent gas.” More than 700 wells have been drilled for extraction of oil and gas in Tamil Nadu and such operations are not hampering agriculture and do not pose any environmental impact or health hazards, the government had said.