The alignment proposed by the GAIL India Ltd., to lay the natural gas pipeline in the State would lead to farmers’ unrest and law and order problems, the State government submitted before the Madras High Court on Tuesday.

In its counter to a writ petition by GAIL challenging the State government’s decision that the company should lay the pipeline alongside the national highway without affecting agricultural lands, the Principal Secretary, Industries, N.S.Palaniappan, submitted that the government had considered all relevant factors.

Covering 310 km in 134 villages

The Kochi-Kuttanad-Bangalore-Mangalore gas pipeline was to pass through Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts, covering 310 km in 134 villages. Farmers and others opposed the laying of the pipeline through their lands.

The State government said that if the pipeline was laid alongside the national highways, it would ensure not only availability of gas to industries and the public, but would also protect the livelihood of farmers. Only after considering this did it tell GAIL that it should give up the present project of laying the pipeline through agricultural lands. During the public hearings convened by the Chief Secretary, farmers and land owners said notices were not properly served on individuals in connection with acquisition of their lands.

Objections

Also, their objections were not properly heard by the Competent Authority of GAIL. The objections were rejected mechanically without application of mind and without assigning any genuine reason. The farmers had also said that GAIL officials did not inform them about the exact path of the pipeline indicating the direction or the pipe’s proposed length in their individual lands, the counter said.

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