The protesters have demanded a special resolution to be passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.

Neduvasal protesters temporarily call off stir after assurances from Centre and State
news Neduvasal Protests Friday, March 10, 2017 - 12:57

The 22-day-long Neduvasal protest against the Centre’s proposed hydrocarbon exploration project has been called off temporarily in Pudukottai district. The decision was taken after Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, state Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and collector S Ganesh met the protesters on Thursday.

This comes after repeated assurances from the government that further requisite permission will not be granted to the extractors, till the people are consulted.

Following their talks with Pon Radhakrishnan, the protesters submitted a petition to the leaders including state Health Minister Vijaya Baskar, The New Indian Express reported. In the petition, they demanded that a special resolution be passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly to officially deny permission to the project.

In addition to this, the protesters also asked the state government to initiate the reclamation and rejuvenation of lands sold to ONGC.

“The government will not grant permission or licence for any mining project in the State. The Pudukkottai district administration will not offer commercial mining licence to any firm,” TNIE quotes Health Minister Vijaya Bhaskar as saying.

The protests against the project began on February 16, a day after the central government announced the award of contract for development of hydrocarbons from 44 contract areas nationwide. The Neduvasal oil field had been awarded to Karnataka-based Gem Laboratories.

The biggest criticism against the government was the lack of information about the project in the public sphere. There was no clarity on what form of fuel would be extracted or the method that will be used. This led to fear among the region's farmers that the extraction will contaminate the groundwater and affect the fertility of their lands.

But instead of alleviating these fears, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan had questioned the capacity of the protesters to understand the project. This, in addition to knowledge about the controversial coal-bed methane project in Thanjavur, only intensified the agitation.

But with Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami stating that the project will not be allowed to progress and Pon Radhakrishnan promising to take the matter to the Union Petroleum Minister, the protesters for now, have suspended their agitation.

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