TIRUCHY: In the wake of energy major ONGC filing an application seeking approval to drill over 100 exploration wells in Tamil Nadu, grama sabha meetings held on Friday across the Cauvery delta districts discussed the adverse effects such projects could have on agriculture. Officials who were expecting the public to discuss water scarcity were taken by surprise by the simmering discontent against the Centre and the project. Alarmed, officials allegedly did not allow several grama sabhas to pass resolutions. A few, however, managed to do so.
MP SS Palanimanickam was among those who took part in the meeting at Tirukkanurpatti, in Thanjavur, where a resolution was passed urging the union government to scrap the hydrocarbon project. Grama sabhas in Ambalapattu North and South villages were not allowed to pass resolutions. In Kathiramangalam, the epicentre of protests against ONGC operations, villagers expressed disappointment that they did not get information about the action taken on their resolution, passed in 2017, banning operations of ONGC in the region. On Friday, officials did not allow the villagers to pass any fresh resolution.
Except for M Padugai in Nagapattinam, other villages could not pass resolutions against hydrocarbon project. At Kameshwaram, the scenes were dramatic. After the officials including secretary Balamurugan refused to pass the resolution against the project, the villagers did not let the officials leave and insisted them to pass it. The officials assured them to pass a resolution after discussing with higher-ups. The question that worried farmers was whether the resolutions passed in grama sabha meetings had any power and were they binding on the governments.
Balamurugan of Neduvasal in Pudukkottai, said “Our village has been unrelentingly passing resolutions in Grama Sabha for the past two years. But it seems these resolutions are toothless as the union government is going ahead with their plan.” Thanga Kannan, a farmer in Senthankudi village , said he filed a query under RTI a month ago seeking the action taken report on the previous resolutions passed in Grama Sabha.
Kudankulam opposes AFR
Residents of Kudankulam and nearby villages that fall under Radhapuram and Valliyur panchayat unions, on Friday, passed a resolution opposing the construction of Away From Reactor (AFR) for storing the spent nuclear fuel from Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) reactors.
Sources said that though the residents of Kudankulam, Vadakkankulam and Kavalkinaru succeeded in passing the resolution despite opposition from the officials, those in Vijayapathi under which Idinthakarai hamlet, where the yearslong protest was staged against the nuclear plant, were prevented from passing the resolution against the AFR facility. A team of policemen led by Assistant Superintendent of Police, Valliyur, Harikiranprasad was deployed in the village to prevent any protest.