The Chemical Industries Association has appealed to the State government to view the natural gas pipeline project of GAIL, work on which has been stopped following protests by farmers, as a matter of great urgency.

Highlighting the industrial and economic benefits that will accrue if natural gas is available, it urged the government to convene a meeting between GAIL officials and the farming community. The objective should be two-pronged – “to allay the fears of the farmers and persuade GAIL to see the ground realities and take appropriate steps in the matter.”

While appealing to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to take up this matter on a priority basis and find an appropriate and amicable solution, the association said availability of natural gas could facilitate setting up of power projects and chemical and allied projects.

Setting up of such natural gas-based projects would also lead to a chain of downstream and ancillary projects generating huge employment opportunities and large income for the State.

The Rs.4,000-crore Kochi liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal is ready after prolonged delay and supply to meet Tamil Nadu’s requirement.

The natural gas would be transported from Kochi to Tamil Nadu and beyond by pipeline.

Following protests by farmers and the State also ordering stoppage of the project, the matter was now in the court.

“One is not clear as to how long judiciary will take to give a verdict and whether the pipeline would be laid at all”, the association said. “In the absence of this gas pipeline, the opportunities that would be lost for Tamil Nadu would be enormous,” the association added.