Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday wrote to PM Narendra Modi calling for realignment of the proposed Kochi-Koottanad-Mangaluru-Bengaluru gas pipeline project of GAIL (India) Limited.
The CM has asked the Centre to rescind notification on the gas pipeline passing through Tamil Nadu and has sought changes in the central law to provide for social impact assessment for the project.
"Since the competent Government under the relevant Act is the Central Government, the Government of India may rescind the notifications, issued under the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User) Act, 1962, for the GAIL pipeline in Tamil Nadu," she said.
Jayalalithaa further said the impact of laying pipelines for transport of gas and other petroleum products was "very wide and affects the life and livelihood of farmers in multiple ways by restricting their usage of land and exposing them to risks."
"It is particularly so in this project since the Act prohibits planting of trees in the lands taken under the Right of User in Land clauses and fruit bearing trees are the main crops in this region and no crop can be grown adjacent to fruit bearing trees."
The Chief Minister highlighted the adverse agricultural impact of the pipeline's construction in the districts of Tirupur, Erode, Coimbatore, Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. Farmers in these areas grow lakhs of mango, jackfruit and coconut trees, which are set to be adversely affected if the project comes through. To make up for the damage, High Court guidelines dictate that at least ten trees must be planted in place of each tree cut.
Among others, the project would result in the removal of over an estimated 1.20 lakh mango, jackfruit and coconut trees besides bringing restrictions on excavating tanks and wells even as the pipeline band "fragments a large number of land holdings, rendering them completely uneconomic," she added.
Laws however, aren't in favour of the State Government to take a call on how to align the pipeline – CM Jayalalithaa says her government will file a review petition with the Supreme Court requesting for amendments to provisions of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in Land) Act, 1962, and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The Supreme Court earlier held that on notifying the right of use of land, the power lies with the Central Government to direct changes on the project.
The government's refusal to let the pipeline pass through farmlands has put the Rs 3,400 crore project on hold since 2013. GAIL has already spent Rs 685 crore for laying the pipeline for 200 km, 35 kms of which are in the state. The project costs are said to skyrocket further with more legal expenses, delay in construction and escalating material costs.