Moving the resolution, Agriculture Minister R Kamalakannan said the Union Petroleum Ministry had signed an agreement with a private company, permitting it to dig 274 wells in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to derive hydrocarbon, but the House on July 23, 2019, had adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Centre not to implement the project.
Meanwhile, the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment on January 16, 2020, had, in a gazette notification, said that there was no need for prior permission for any exploration.
If hydrocarbon was taken from Karaikal and Bahour, the areas would become a desert and spoil agriculture and the livelihood of agriculturists, the minister said, adding that hence, to encourage agriculture in the areas, the Karaikal region and Bahour in Puducherry are being announced as ‘Special Protected Agricultural Zone’.
Kamalakannan also urged the Union Government to withdraw the gazette notification of the Ministry of Forest and Environment.
Participating in the debate on the resolution, Government whip Anantharaman said, Vedanta Limited, a mining company, which was allegedly responsible for the firing on the people in Thoothukudi for opposing the project, is entrusted with the task of deriving hydrocarbon from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
He said Vedanta had donated Rs 2.01 crore to India Vision Foundation, an organisation run by a prominent personality here and demanded a CBI probe into the issue.
Anantharaman also wanted a GO to be released on the issue of agricultural zone and added that it would not get passed from the Lt Governor’s office.
Kamalakannan, who read out a detailed report on the hydrocarbon project, urged the Speaker to ensure a legal protection for the agricultural zone.
Several other members also expressed their views on the issue.
Winding up the discussion, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said he had already written to the Central Government that the hydrocarbon project would not be allowed in the Union Territory.
On the issue of India Vision Foundation getting funds from Vedanta, Narayanasamy said that he did not know who is running the organisation and said that an inquiry would be ordered.
Steps would also be taken to ensure a legal recognition for the agricultural zone, he added.