In a bold and important move, Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Sunday announced eight Cauvery delta districts of Tamilnadu including the rice bowl, Thanjavur, will be categorised as a special protected agricultural zone and assured that permission will not be given for hydrocarbon projects.
Asserting that steps will be taken to enact a separate law to confer the protected status to the delta districts, he said here that only agro-based industries will be encouraged on a need basis in the river Cauvery fed regions.
While farmers and general public have welcomed the announcement, AIADMK cadres and supporters see the move as a leap forward in its pro-farmer initiatives and something which turned the tables on DMK that had picked this issue to target both the ruling party and the Centre.
On opposition from farmers to oil exploration and extraction projects in the delta region, Palaniswami said he understood the travails of ryots since he himself was a farmer. The Chief Minister said the apprehension of farmers and agricultural labourers that their livelihood may be affected due to ‘hydrocarbon like projects,’ was fair.
The Cauvery delta region, spread over about 28 lakh acres produced 33 lakh metric tonnes of food grains and farmers were continuing their work despite natural calamities like the deluge witnessed in 2017 and 2018, he noted.
In view of the proximity to the coastline, there was also the scope of seawater intrusion and such factors too made it pertinent to protect the region, he said. Pointing to the emotional bond the people have with the Cauvery delta region antedating the times of great Chola ruler Karikala, he said: ‘I would like to make a historic announcement to protect the Cauvery delta region and thwart impediments to agriculture.’
To guard the delta areas and end farmers’ ordeals, special protection will be bestowed on Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagappattinam, Pudukottai, Cuddalore, Ariyalur, Karur and Tiruchirappalli districts, he said.
And, on Monday, a day after Palaniswami announced that the Cauvery delta region will be declared a Protected Special Agricultural Zone, the Tamilnadu government informed the Centre about the decision. Much needed moves, indeed.