Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Wednesday declared in the Assembly that the State government and especially he, who “hailed from the Delta region”, would, under no circumstances, allow any project that would affect the farmers in that region.
Mr. Stalin was responding to a special call attention motion moved by members of all political parties regarding the recent notification by the Union Ministry of Coal, to auction 101 blocks across the country, which include three in Tamil Nadu. Of the three, East of Sethiathope and Vadaseri fall within the regions protected under the Tamil Nadu Protected Agriculture Zone Development Act, 2020 while Michaelpatti is a major paddy-growing area adjoining a fertile part of the Cauvery delta.
Mr. Stalin, who on Tuesday, had addressed a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the auction proposal, said he was as shocked as everyone in the Assembly that the decision to auction was taken by the Union Coal Ministry without any communication or consultation with the State government.
The Chief Minister had asked T.R. Baalu, DMK’s parliamentary party leader, to meet Union Coal Minister, Pralhad Joshi, in connection with this. Since the Minister was not in Delhi, Mr. Baalu had spoken to him over the phone. The Minister had assured him that he would treat the letter with importance and asked Mr. Baalu not to worry, Mr Stalin said.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Industries Thangam Thennarasu, who responded to the motion, said the Chief Minister had acted swiftly and shot a letter to the Prime Minister. The DMK MPs were planning to raise the issue in Parliament on Wednesday.
AIADMK MLA R. Kamaraj said it was surprising that the State government was unaware of the auction earlier, as the proceedings for the same were apparently under way for about a year. Stating that his party stalled the parliament for 22 days when the Cauvery issue was in focus, he urged the ruling DMK and its allies who have 38 MPs in the Lok Sabha to exert pressure on the Union government.
Lignite blocks in Tamil Nadu notified for auction
BJP MLA Vanathi Srinivasan said her party’s Tamil Nadu unit had written to the Union Coal Minister to exclude the three lignite blocks from the State in the auction. Contending that the Union Ministry would have intimated at least the local district administration and the Revenue department regarding such projects involving land, she wondered why these officials did not alert the government regarding the issues.
On MLAs alleging that the Union government may award the projects to corporates, she said even the DMK in 2011 had signed a memorandum of understanding with a private company for extracting natural resources in the same region.
Speaker M. Appavu, who intervened, said the Chief Minister had given explanation regarding the same in the past.
Mr. Thennarasu, in his reply, alluded to the criticisms against the BJP government at the Centre regarding privatisation and said a BJP MLA talking about privatisation was akin to Satan quoting scriptures.
Representatives from all political parties spoke on the motion, strongly criticising the Union government.