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Farmers, Fishermen Protest Against Hydrocarbon Project in Delta Region of Tamil Nadu

The farmers of the delta region, known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, have accused the central and state governments of betraying the farming community by converting the region into a petrochemical region.

The hydrocarbon project in the delta region including Thiruvarur, Nagappatinam, Pudukottai, Thanjavore districts of Tamil Nadu continue to face the ire of the farmers of the region. The central government has given in-principle approval to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and the Vedanta group for hydro carbon extraction in the region. The farmers are protesting against the move, but the state government has failed to clear its stand on the project.

In a recent development, the fishermen of Vizhuppuram district have joined the farmers in opposing the project.

Pipes laid in Planted fields

The farmers of the delta region, known as the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, have accused the central and state governments of betraying the farming community by converting the region into a petrochemical region. The pipelines in the region are being laid with heavy police protection. Cases were also registered against the protesting farmers and leaders of several farmers’ associations.

On Friday, the farmers protested against laying of pipelines in Memathur village of Nagapattinam district on the fields where farming for the Kuruvai crop has been started. The vehicles of ONGC were seen digging pits to lay the pipelines, while damaging the paddy saplings. The farmers of the regions reeling under severe water crisis have managed to bring up the sapling after a lot of struggle.

The farmers’ organisations, irrespective of their political affiliations, have condemned the manner in which the project is implemented by damaging the fields. They have decided to chart out different programmes to stop the project from being implemented.

Cotton Farmers Protest against the Project

The cotton farmers of Kottur village in Thiruvarur district held demonstration against the hydrocarbon project recently. They alleged that the complete farming in the locality will be wiped out once the project is completed. The severe water crisis and low cost for the agricultural produces have pushed the farmers into severe debt.

The present move of the government will certainly have a huge impact in this region, as most of the population here largely depends on farming for their living.

Vizhuppuram Fishermen join the Farmers in Protest

The fishermen from the areas close to Marakkanam in Vizhuppuram district have joined the farmers protesting against the project. They have accused both the state and union government of throwing their lives to peril. An agitating fisherman said, “We were told that a huge complex would be built in our area to store the extracted product by the ONGC near our village. In such a case, the area faces the danger of being listed as a ‘Protected Area’ and our right to access to the sea will be denied. We were also told that fishing will not be permitted in up to 30 kms from the storage site. We will lose our livelihood and will fight till the project is scrapped.”

Governments Remain Silent on the Issue

The state government led by the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has remained silent on the project. The Union government which has been under attack by various sections of Tamil Nadu for its stubborn stand seems to have been ignoring the farmers’ protests. Ironically, in spite of protests, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s state president had announced that, “if the farmers are not happy with the project, we are ready to reconsider implementing the same”. This statement has not gone down well with the protesting farmers of the region. The opposition parties have accused both the state and union governments of letting down the farmers of the region.

With already several incidents being reported of gas leakages leading to crop damages in certain areas in the delta region, the ongoing project too is expected to severely impact the farming sector.

Also read: Elections 2019: May 23 Will Determine the Fate of AIADMK Rule in Tamil Nadu

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