His statement comes even as protests rage on in Pudukkotai district.

No permission given for Neduvasal hydrocarbon project assures TN CM Edappadi Palaniswami
news Neduvasal protests Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - 15:17

Following days of protest at Neduvasal, a small village in Pudukkottai district, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Wednesday assured farmers that the state government has not granted permission for the hydrocarbon project.

“The state government has not granted any license to commercially extract natural gas at Neduvasal as it will affect the livelihood of farmers. There is no need to fear,” said the Chief Minister.

Palaniswami also urged protesters to give up their agitation stating, “Please accept the government’s resolution on this and give up the protest.”  He promised that no scheme that would be harmful to farmers would be allowed by his government.

A group of 11 farmers, who were part of the protests in Neduvasal met Palaniswami in Chennai on Wednesday. The meeting which began at 11am lasted for close to 45 minutes.

C Velu, one of the members of the group told TNM, "We requested the Chief Minister to put an end to the hydrocarbon project approved by the Centre. He told us that the government will definitely not allow the project to happen. The Chief Minister said that the state was yet to grant several permissions required to start the project and that they don't plan to give it either. He then told us that if we believe his words, we should go back to Neduvasal and convince other protesters to stop the agitation."

The group however remained sceptical. "We have spent our whole lives farming and that is all we know. When they dug for oil in a nearby village, it contaminated the soil and made it uncultivable. Several farmers there even fell ill. There are thousands of people protesting in Neduvasal, we can't stop the agitation without consulting them. Moreover, this is the Centre's project, we don't know how much power the state can exert despite the assurances."

His statement comes two days after he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. Palaniswami had on Monday handed a memorandum to Modi requesting the Centre to stop the hydrocarbon exploration project.

Protests have been raging in Neduvasal for several days now with farmers fearing that the hydrocarbon project would have an adverse impact on agriculture, besides depleting and contaminating groundwater in the area. The agitation intensified over the weekend with youngsters and several celebrities including director R Pandiarajan, Thangar Bachan and Ameer lending support to farmers.

On February 15, the Centre gave its approval for awarding the hydrocarbon project at Neduvasal to GEM Laboratories Private Limited. The project is part of the Centre’s Discovered Small Fields policy, which aims to reduce India’s dependence on oil imports by boosting domestic production.

 

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