The Tamil Nadu police have registered cases against 430 farmers who have been protesting against the hydrocarbon project in Thiruvarur district. The farmers have pledged to carry forward the struggle against the project, which, they allege, will severely damage the prospects of farming in the delta region. The protest has been organised by various farmers’ organisations, and is receiving support from fishermen as well as the common people.
Apart from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India (ONGC), the corporate giant Vedanta has also been granted permission by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for extracting hydrocarbon. Initially, the permission to ONGC was sanctioned for excavation of Methane gas alone. It has been now extended to drilling wells for the extraction of hydrocarbon.
The farmers have been opposing the project ever since the implementation of its initial phase. The protest has gathered steam as the farmers say that the project is affecting the them and the agricultural labourers to a great extent.
Coordinator of the Committee against Hydrocarbon Project Varadharajan told NewsClick, “The Edapadi Palaniswami-led All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government continues to betray the farmers and supports the corporate companies. The former Chief Minister late Jayalalitha had promised that projects affecting the farmers will not be implemented in the state. But the AIADMK government after her demise has failed to keep the promise. No public hearing was conducted in the region before the project was implemented. The farmers are kept at large regarding the implementation of such impactful projects.”
He added, “More than 40% of paddy required for the state is cultivated in the delta region. By making it a petro-chemical region, the state will be forced to import food grains from somewhere else, which is really pathetic. Also, there occur a lot of accidents due to explosion of oil pipes in Thiruvarur district. Many people have lost their lives, while no compensation is paid to the victims’ families. Instead of filing cases against the companies, the police and the government implicate the farmers in the false cases. Now, we are pushed to fight against the ONGC and the Vedanta group.”
The farmers and leaders of the farmers’ associations had earlier accused the Tamil Nadu government of playing second fiddle to the Union government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It has to be noted that all the parties in the state, except for AIADMK and BJP, are opposing the hydrocarbon project.
Also read: Farmers, Fishermen Protest Against Hydrocarbon Project in Delta Region of Tamil Nadu