Oil major’s pipe laying project has farmers up in arms

Tension prevails in Pottalkaadu, Kulaiyankarisal and Servaikaaranmadam villages as farmers allege that the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) which is laying pipes to carry natural gas to a fertilizer manufacturing unit here, was forcibly laying the pipes via cultivable lands with the backing of the police.

As IOCL is laying pipes for about 142 km via 53 revenue villages to carry natural gas from Ramanathapuram to the fertilizer manufacturing unit, work has been completed in about 134 km. In Thoothukudi district, the oil major has proposed to lay pipes via the cultivable lands in Kulaiyankarisal and Pottalkaadu. Villagers are opposing it saying the pipeline would pose serious threat to the village and farming operations and their livelihood.

They, instead, say laying of pipelines should be carried out through alternative routes instead of the cultivable lands, where farmers cultivate banana, vegetables and paddy during ‘pisanam’ season (between October and February) whenever water level in the dams is comfortable.

When the IOCL tried to lay pipelines despite the public’s resistance, Pottalkaadu villagers tied black flags in their houses for two days last week as a mark of protest. Only when they gathered in the village to decide on their protest strategy, the police and revenue officials rushed to the spot to hold talks. As talks did not yield any result, tension prevails in villages.

Speaking to reporters at Kulaiyankarisal on Friday after having marathon discussion with the farmers from Pottalkaadu, Kulaiyankarisal, Servaikaaranmadam and other villages, farmers’ welfare association representatives said the IOCL, which started the survey of lands for laying the pipes via cultivable lands in 2017, was laying pipes with the backing of the police without fulfilling the promises they had made earlier to the land owners.

“Since the compensation being given for the land is not sufficient, we’d asked the IOCL to increase the compensation by three times from the present rate. Moreover, we told the oil major to deepen the Pottalkaadu irrigation tank and desilt the irrigation channels in this area. Though they had agreed to our demands, they are now trying to lay the pipes with the backing of the police, which will trigger major law and order issues in this area. If the IOCL continues to adopt coercive posture, we’ll also make our stance harder which will result in unpleasant incidents again in the district,” the farmers warned.

Meanwhile, the IOCL authorities had discussion with Collector Sandeep Nanduri, who has temporarily stalled the pipe laying work.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 10:16:20 PM |

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