CHENNAI: Within 12 days of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami promising a permanent solution for Cauvery Delta farmers, the State Assembly on Thursday passed a Bill declaring the region as a protected special agricultural zone, and thereby banning a host of hazardous industries from setting shop there in future. The Bill, significantly, does not affect existing industries.
The Protected Agricultural Zone (PAZ) would now cover the districts of Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, and Nagapattinam. Delta areas of Cuddalore and Pudukkottai have also been covered under the PAZ. However, Tiruchy and Ariyalur have been left out. Palaniswami reasoned that this was because these districts already have a lot of industrial units. The Bill calls for the setting up of a 30-member Protected Agricultural Zone Authority (TNPAZA), headed by the Chief Minister himself. The Bill also details an 18-point charter of functions of the Authority.
District-level committees, headed by Collectors, would assist the TNPAZA. Interestingly, the Bill leaves room for any area in the Delta region to be added or omitted. Similarly, any project can also be added or omitted as per the recommendations made by the PAZ. The Authority would make its recommendations based on studies undertaken by the technical committee. While welcoming the Bill, the DMK demanded that it be referred to the Select Committee of the House for deliberations over ‘certain shortcomings’. Later, the Opposition party staged a walkout over the issue.
‘ I am proud to present this Bill’
“As a farmer, I take pride in introducing this Bill. Farmers have been waiting for this legislation giving them full protection. But, the Opposition has politicised even this issue,” says CM.