Tamil Nadu

HC restrains villagers from protesting against wetland acquisition for CPCL refinery expansion

The Madras High Court has restrained villagers owning land around the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL) refinery at Muttam near Nagore in Nagapattinam district from staging an indefinite sit-in on a private land against the acquisition of 696.93 acres for the expansion of the refinery.

Admitting a State appeal against permission granted by a single judge for the protest, Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D. Bharatha Chakravarthy said it would be advisable for the landowners not to indulge in any protest and instead await the outcome of the cases filed by some of the land-owners seeking fair compensation.

“They should keep faith in justice and usefully devote themselves to their work, instead of putting themselves inconvenienced for whole of the day remaining under the canopy,” the first Division Bench wrote after observing that the landowners could peacefully continue their farming activity until the disputes were resolved.

The Bench directed the Registry to list for August 12 the present appeal, preferred by the Nagapattinam police, along with the writ petitions filed by the landowners who feared that they might not be granted fair compensation. It ordered that till then, the landowners should not indulge in any protest.

According to Advocate-General R. Shunmugasundaram, CPCL, a Central public sector undertaking functioning under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, had decided to expand at an estimated cost of ₹27,460 crore. It planned to acquire 633.74 acres of private wetland, 16.62 acres of private dryland and 46.57 acres of government land.

While the acquisition of government land was complete, the State government had appointed tahsildars to complete the acquisition of private land under the Tamil Nadu Acquisition of Land for Industrial Purposes Act, 1997. The land is being acquired in Panangudi, Gopurajapuram and Narimanam villages.

Suddenly, some of the landowners had gathered under a banner and decided to hold a sit-in on a private land at Panangudi. The police denied permission for any such protest since the site was close to the Nagoor Dargah and the Annai Velankanni shrine, and there was a possibility of undesirable events.

However, the protesters approached the single judge and obtained permission on condition that the protest be conducted peacefully on the private property; food, drinking water, vehicle parking and toilet facilities be provided; and waste management activities be carried out at the site.

Aggrieved by the single judge’s order, the Advocate-General made an urgent mention before the first Division Bench, led by the Chief Justice, for moving the appeal and obtained an interim order restraining the landowners from going ahead with their protest.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2022 11:51:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-restrains-villagers-from-protesting-against-wetland-acquisition-for-cpcl-refinery-expansion/article65750242.ece