The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] conducted mass contact programme in the five Delta districts of Tamil Nadu to protest against the hydrocarbon project and create awareness among the people regarding the risks associated with the project. However, district administration has denied permission for the party’s campaign in Thanjavore and Cuddalore districts and has registered cases against more than 200 persons for continuing with the campaign.
The CPI(M) and its mass organisations are in the forefront of the struggle against the hydrocarbon project which is spread over the delta districts namely Thanjavore, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Pudukottai and Thiruvarur.
Five-day Mass Contact Programme
The CPI(M) district committees from the five Delta district started their mass contact programme on June 6. They embarked on two-wheeler and four-wheeler jathas (rallies) which covered all corners of the five districts. Street corner meetings were also conducted to convey the information regarding the damages the project will cause to the districts, which are largely dependent on farming.
P Shanmugam, state secretariat member of the CPI(M) and general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam affiliated to the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), while participating in the campaign, accused the Union and the state governments of taking the land, water and food away from the people by implementing such a dreadful project in the region. He also accused the chief minister of keeping mum on this issue.
The CPI(M) state secretary K Balakrishnan, in a press release, condemned the decision to deny permission for the mass contact programme in the two districts. He accused the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government of autocratic behaviour in suppressing the voices of the opposition parties and the affected people. The statement also criticised the government for denying the democratic rights of the opposition in airing their opinion on the projects affecting the people.
Norms Changed to Implement Multiple Projects
Farmers’ organisations allege that the Union government has changed the norms and has implemented New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) to facilitate the implementation of various projects of oil and gas extraction. The policy implemented in the year 2016 enables companies to extract methane, shale gas and tight gas with the single permission they had obtained before 2016 for extracting crude oil alone.
The state government in 2010 had banned extraction of methane after opposition from various sections of the society. But the present AIADMK government has been using all its force to suppress the opposition against such dangerous projects.
Human Chain to Protest Against Projects
The ‘Movement Against Destruction’ and many other farmers’ organisations including AIKS will form a human chain on June 12 extending for about 600 km to mark protest against hydrocarbon project, Sagar Mala, Chennai-Salem green corridor and atomic power projects being implemented in the state. The human chain will start from Marakkanam of Vizhuppuram district and will end at Rameshwaram in Ramanathapuram district. The human chain will pass through Puducherry, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur, Thanjavore and Pudukottai.
The opposition parties, including Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Vaiko, CPI(M), CPI, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, have pledged their support for the movement. These parties have called upon their cadres to participate in large numbers in the movement. The protests by various organisations have gathered steam since both the AIADMK-led state government and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government have remained calm about the hazards of the project and victimising the people opposing the project.
Also read: Farmers, Fishermen Protest Against Hydrocarbon Project in Delta Region of Tamil Nadu