‘Gas Authority of India Ltd pipeline would not cross agricultural land’
A year after the Supreme Court dismissed a plea and a review by the state government to realign the GAIL (Gas Authority of India Ltd) pipeline in Tamil Nadu, farmers and the state government are worried about a new order likely to be pronounced by Madras high court on January 20. Despite the apex court rejecting the realignment plea, six state ministers met a few farmers’ associations and again assured them that they would ensure the pipeline is realigned.
On Monday, six state ministers including minister for rural development, S P Velumani, highways minister, K Palanisamy, environment minister, K C Karuppannan and higher education minister K P Anbalagan met with farmers associations from seven districts to again assure them that they would ensure that the GAIL pipeline would not cut across their agricultural lands.
“They said that they would keep up the chief minister’s promise that the pipeline does not enter our patta lands,” said the state general secretary of the farmers’ association (non-political), P Kandasamy.
“They assured us that the state government would take all efforts to legally deal with GAIL. GAIL has been making efforts to start work on laying the pipelines through short cuts,” he said.
Mutharasu had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in Madras high court asking that natural gas be brought in because of the increasing pollution.
Though it has nothing to do with GAIL, they have joined as party to the case. The court is expected to give an order on January 20. If it is favourable to natural gas production, GAIL might use it to their favour,” said Kandasamy. The farmers threatened mass protests, if GAIL began work again.
It was on February 2 last year when the Supreme Court dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea to realign the 310km long Kochi-Kuttanad-Bangalore-Mangalore gas pipeline, passing through seven districts in Tamil Nadu.
The state government had filed a petition with the Supreme Court to get GAIL to realign the pipelines, in such a way that the pipelines do not cut across agricultural lands but are laid across the highways department instead.
The pipeline initiated in 2007 by GAIL, a public sector undertaking aimed at connecting Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to the national gas grid. GAIL and Tamil Nadu government even signed a formal gas cooperation agreement in 2008. But by June and July 2012, protests by farmers broke out and the project was stopped.