Chennai: Just days after a Bill was passed in the Assembly, the declaration of Cauvery Delta regions as Protected Special Agriculture Zone was released in the government gazette today after the Governor’s assent.
Also, the government has cancelled a 2017 order that declared 45 villages of Nagapattinam and Cuddalore districts as a local planning area for constitution of Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR).
The Tamilnadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act, 2020 announced by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami recently, was tabled in the Assembly Thursday.
Palaniswami who piloted the Bill in the House, said, ”As a farmer I am proud to table this Bill”. Approval for the Bill was given by the Cabinet during the meeting held on Wednesday.
The Bill states that the entire Cauvery basin, including Thanjavur, Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam and the Cauvery blocks – Pudukottai, Karur, Trichy and Ariyalur – will not be allowed to have heavy industry and oil and natural gas extraction.
Aimed at protecting agriculture in the Delta areas, considered the rice bowl of Tamilnadu, the Bill also seeks to establish a high-powered authority to be led by the Chief Minister to protect and improve farming to increase farm productivity.
Palaniswami made the announcement of declaring Delta regions as protected area after laying foundation stones for the Advanced Institute for Integrated Research in Livestock and Animal Science and a new veterinary medical college near Thalaivasal in Salem district on 9 February.
Palaniswami said the announcement was aimed at protecting the Cauvery delta region for the future, fulfilling Tamilnadu’s food requirements and ensuring the welfare of delta farmers.
What is says
The prohibition clause of the Bill said: ”No person shall undertake any new project or new activity specified in the Second Schedule in the protected agricultural zone.”
Apart from coal-bed methane, shale gas and other similar hydrocarbon and ship-breaking industry, the schedule of prohibited projects also include zinc smelter, iron ore process plant, integrated steel plant and sponge iron plant. Also, copper smelter, aluminium smelter, bone meal, processing of animal horn, hoofs and body parts and tannery are included. However, activities or projects in operation in the protected agricultural zone would not be affected.
Also, infrastructure developments in the zone such as harbour, pipelines, road, telecommunications, power, water supply and other utilities are excluded from the Bill. The prohibition applies to Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, and Nagapattinam districts that form the core of Cauvery delta region in Tamilnadu besides several blocks of Cuddalore and Pudukottai districts.
As per the Bill, the government shall take steps to use available agricultural lands for sustainable development of farming and ensure that agricultural activities are not unduly constrained by non-agricultural use or other development. This is a welcome move which would help benefit agriculture in Delta regions.