The Hindu, 09 Feb 2015, Tiruvarur: The Tamil Nadu government must declare the Cauvery delta as a protected agricultural zone, banning any non-sustainable industrial activity that adversely impacts the life of the farmers, said social activist Medha Patkar here on Sunday.
On a day-long visit covering Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts in the Cauvery delta where people are up against a mega project to harness subsurface methane, the National Alliance of People’s Movements leader interacted with the people and farmers affected by the oil spill from the facilities maintained by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur districts.
Ms. Patkar expressed solidarity with farmers and called upon the governments to consider the plight of the people who have lost their means of livelihood.
Farmers affected by the oil spill at Erukkattur in Tiruvarur district told her that pipelines had burst several times in the past two decades spewing poisonous chemical-mixed oil on to their fields. Both standing crop and the fields had been damaged irrevocably, they said.
At Vellakudi, people residing near the ONGC oil processing facility alleged that they have been suffering from many diseases – all due to the proximity to the facility.
Ms. Patkar, after gaining first-hand information of the adverse effect of the oil and natural gas exploration works in the region, said that the governments must immediately stop projects that deprived the people of their livelihood. Claiming that the exploration works have left the groundwater in the area contaminated, she wanted the authorities to look into the oil leakages that have affected the soil fertility.
ONGC that had already sunk bores to a depth of 2,000 metres was planning to go deeper and that would threaten all agricultural activities in the Cauvery delta, the farmers said.
Interacting with the media, she said that the methane extraction project must be withdrawn and the State government must not renew the Memorandum of Understanding with the Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited to explore methane in the Cauvery delta.