Tamil Nadu

Farmers slam Centre for waiving EIA for hydrocarbon projects

Farmers’ organisations in the Cauvery delta region have criticised the Centre’s decision to exempt oil and gas firms looking to carry out exploratory drilling from having to obtain environmental clearance. One such association has said it will move the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision.

Farmers’ representatives contended that the move would destroy agriculture in the Cauvery delta and endanger the food security of the country. “The change will definitely upset the entire farming community of the country, especially farmers in the delta region on the east, which is rich in hydrocarbons. It will destroy agriculture once and for all,” observed Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association.

“Drilling for oil and gas from sedimentary rock is one thing. But extracting hydrocarbon, which includes everything from coal bed methane to shale gas, will destroy the delta within the next 30 years,” he said. “The Prime Minister should be requested not to be obsessed with reducing the country’s oil import bill. It is a question of ensuring food security for future generations,” he added.

Mr. Ranganathan also urged the State government to leverage the good relations it enjoyed with the Centre to see to it that the hydrocarbon project is not implemented.

Declaring the Centre’s move “unconstitutional and oppressive”, P.R. Pandian, general secretary, Tamizhaga Cauvery Vivasayigal Sangam, said his association will move the Supreme Court, seeking the quashing of the Centre’s order and a ban on implementing hydrocarbon projects in the Cauvery delta.

‘Against federal spirit’

Mr. Pandian said the Centre’s order was against the federal spirit of the country and an attempt to stifle the voices of the people, since as per the order, public hearings need not be held as the need for obtaining an environmental impact assessment (EIA) had been done away with for both onshore and offshore drilling explorations. “Such orders make us wonder whether an undeclared Emergency is in force in the country,” Mr. Pandian said.

Pointing out that the Centre’s decision to grant permission to ONGC and the Vedanta group in 2019 to conduct exploratory oil surveys in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry had led to mass protests, Mr. Pandian affirmed that delta farmers will not give even an inch of land for such projects, and will even be prepared to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

Arupathi Kalyanam, general secretary, Federation of Farmers' Associations of Delta Districts, felt that the Centre’s move would have disastrous consequences for the delta. “The Centre should consider the plight of farmers and farm labourers and withdraw the decision,” he said.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:43:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farmers-slam-centre-for-waiving-eia-for-hydrocarbon-projects/article30610267.ece

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