Protected agri zone: TN conveyes its Delta ‘decision’ to Centre

A day after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced that the Cauvery delta region will be declared a Protected Special Agricultural Zone, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday informed the Centre about the decision.

Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar called on Union Minister of Environment, Forest & Climate Change Prakash Javadekar and Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan in Delhi and handed over to them a letter from the CM explaining the State government’s decision.

In the letter, EPS requested the Centre to stop future plans for exploration and mining of hydrocarbons in the delta. “It is our strong view that the ecologically sensitive Cauvery delta region should be excluded from any exploration, development and production of hydrocarbons in future,” the CM said.

The Centre is requested to add a provison excluding the region from the purview of the January 16 amendment notification, he said.

“The negative aspect of hydrocarbon projects outweigh advantages claimed by the proponents. Pipeline failures, accidents, spills and explosions can lead to property and ecological damage, loss of life and adversely impact health and habitat in a densely populated agrarian belt,” EPS said.

Last year, the Centre had awarded oil and gas exploration contracts in the Cauvery basin. Tamil Nadu has witnessed protests over the projects amid the ongoing water crisis in the state.

“We declare Cauvery delta as a protected agricultural zone. We will talk to legal experts to bring a special law. Even though I am the CM, I am looking at this problem as a farmer. We will not allow the hydrocarbon project,” Palaniswami said on Sunday.

The protected agricultural Zone tag would require state government permission to undertake projects.