Putting the Centre on the mat again, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has placed a lid on the Methane Extraction Project in the Cauvery delta region, taking serious note of environmental issues and apprehensions raised by local farmers.
The project that was cleared by the Centre was being implemented by Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEEC) on 691 sq km of land across 50 villages in the fertile Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts. The project will be put on hold till the State government takes a final call after examining an expert panel’s report.
“Projects are implemented for the sake of people and not vice versa. This is the basic objective of the government headed by me. So it will not allow the methane extraction project if it would cause even the least amount of harm to the farmers of the delta area, the granary of Tamil Nadu,” the Chief Minister said, in a statement on Wednesday.
A panel comprising experts from Anna University, IIT-Madras, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, PWD, Agriculture Department, TNPCB and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation and the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, has been asked to file its report within three months. “At a time when sea water intrusion is likely in delta districts in the years to come due to climatic changes, farmers have expressed many apprehensions about this project. In this backdrop, methane extraction can be allowed only if the Centre ensures that the project will not harm farmers,” the Chief Minister’s statement read.
Jayalalithaa also recalled that the AIADMK government has already taken steps to implement a scheme to protect the Delta region from threats arising out of climatic changes. The scheme would be implemented at a cost of Rs1,560 crore with assistance from Asian Development Bank, in five years.
She said farmers fear that the quality of soil would be affected.