‘Centre delays establishment of bodies to implement Cauvery Tribunal award’

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa asserted on Saturday that her government would not allow the implementation of projects that would impact the livelihood of farmers.

Citing the methane extraction project proposed in the Cauvery delta districts, she said the project, if implemented, would turn the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu into a desert, affecting the livelihood of farmers. She held the former Union Minister, T.R. Baalu, and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam responsible for clearing it.

“It was Mr. Baalu, as Union Minister of State for Petroleum in 1996, who decided to implement the project. Later, the Congress-led government at the Centre, in which the DMK was a partner, entered into an agreement with Great Eastern Energy Corporation for methane extraction. In 2011, M.K. Stalin, the then Deputy Chief Minister, presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the company for methane extraction in an area of 691 sq.km in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts for four years,” she alleged at a campaign meeting in Thanjavur.

“My government has put the project on hold and appointed an expert committee to go into the details and submit a report,” she added.

Ms. Jayalalithaa said Mr. Baalu also had vested interests in implementing the Sethusamudram project, which would not yield any economic benefit to the country. On the contrary, it would affect the livelihood of fishermen and damage coral reefs.

Addressing a rally in Tiruchi, she accused the UPA government of deliberately delaying the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board and the Cauvery Water Regulation Committee, which were necessary for effective implementation of the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal. She had to wage a legal battle to get the award gazetted and approach the Supreme Court for the constitution of the management board and the regulation committee. Both the Congress and the DMK betrayed the interests of Tamil Nadu and Tamils, she said.

She also criticised the Centre for permitting field trials of 200 varieties of genetically modified crops. “This may make multi-national companies happy, but will spell doom for farmers,” she said. Her government would not allow the trials in the State.

Only a change of government at the Centre would help put Tamil Nadu at the forefront of development and uphold the rights of Tamils, she said.