Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami called the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act ‘historic’.

5 things to know about Act declaring Cauvery delta a Protected Agricultural ZoneImage for representation/PTI
news Governance Thursday, February 20, 2020 - 18:47

The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, on Thursday passed the Bill declaring the Cauvery delta region as a Protected Agricultural Zone. The Act comes weeks after Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced that Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Pudukkottai, Ariyalur, Karur and Trichy districts will be declared a ‘Protected agricultural zone’. 

The passage of the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Bill also comes after Palaniswami had in January opposed the Centre’s decision to exempt hydrocarbon projects from public consultations by amending the Environment Impact Assessment Notification. Farmers in Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl have in the past protested over permissions being granted to oil and gas companies to carry out hydrocarbon exploitation projects.

While Palaniswami had called the Bill ‘historic’, the DMK walked out of the Assembly before the Bill was passed, alleging that the government did not provide proper explanation for the National Population Register (NPR).

The salient features of the Bill are as follows: 

  1. The Act announces the entire districts of Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam as Protected Agricultural Zone. Apart from these, parts of Cuddalore (Kattumannarkoil, Melbhuvanagiri, Parangipettai, Keerapalayam and Kumaratchi) and Pudukottai (Aranthangi, Avudaiyarkoil, Manamelkudi, Thiruvarankulam and Karambakudi) districts have also been added to the zone. The Act also states that additions and deletions can be made to this list of areas. 
  2. The Act prohibits the setting up of zinc, copper and aluminium smelter plants, iron and steel processing industries, industries which process animal bones, horns etc, leather processing industries, oil and coal-based exploration projects for hydrocarbon, methane and natural gases and ship breaking industries in the protected zone. The Act, however, does not speak about restrictions on the projects which are already in progress in the Cauvery delta region. 
  3. The Act also specifically states that it will not affect the infrastructure works in these regions like developing harbours, laying pipelines, roads, telecommunications, electricity and water distribution works. 
  4. The state government will also form a high-level committee led by the Chief Minister to implement the Act. The committee will have 29 other members from various government departments including the Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, one Member of Parliament, two MLAs, three farmer representatives and one expert each from the fields of agriculture, horticulture and veterinary sciences and animal husbandry. 
  5. The state level committee will be assisted by a district level committee headed by the District Collector. This committee will have officials from the Forest department, environment department, water resources department, electricity department and two farmer representatives recommended by the Collector. 

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