CHENNAI: THE Madras High Court has stayed the operation of an order dated January 21, 2014, of the State Energy secretary, which dispossessed 137 farmers in Vilamavur, Nanganenthal, Thiruppalakudi and Uppoor villages in Ramanathapuram district of their land measuring 1,352 acres for setting up a coal-based power plant with 2 x 800 mw capacity.
Justice MM Sundresh, who granted the injunction while passing interim orders on April 28 on a writ petition from Anaithu Vyvasayigal Pathukappu Nalasangam, by its president K Karunanithi, to quash the 2014 order, said that the other proceedings can go on.
According to senior advocate P Wilson, the members of the petitioner association hailing from a lower strata, are badly affected by the decision of the State Energy secretary to acquire lands by invoking Sec 3 (2) of the TN Acquisition of Lands for Industrial Purposes Act, 1997.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, prohibited acquisition of fertile and irrigation lands. The lands are highly fertile ones, where rice is the major cultivation, In winter, alternate crops such as chillies, cotton and gingelly are cultivated.
The yield is so enormous and they contribute major production of rice to the State bowl. The villages comprises of fertile lands surrounded by thick flora and fauna, water-tanks and natural streams are cutting across the agricultural lands. More so, under the Act if fertile lands are demonstrably shown to be required, alternate equivalent lands should be given to the displaced agriculturists.
The compensation payable is 4 times of market value under the 2013 Act. Unmindful of the impact on environment, the government went ahead to conduct a public hearing through the District Collector, who had ordered the arrest of the villagers, who voiced their objections during the hearing.
The affected farmers had also challenged the grant of no objection certificate (NOC) to the project before National Green Tribunal.