A day after Leader of Opposition and DMK working president M K Stalin wrote to the Union Petroleum Minister Dharamendra Pradhan asking him to “refrain from according sanction to the project opposed tooth-and-nail by the people”, Vaiko of MDMK on Saturday announced a protest demonstration against the Centre at Neduvasal on February 28. PMK has already registered its unequivocal opposition to the ecologically sensitive project.
The BJP in Tamil Nadu has played it safe by mouthing concerns about people’s fears and criticising the strident disapproval of the Opposition parties in the state for the project. State BJP leaders who have been claiming till a few days back that the hydrocarbon project has been conceived during the UPA regime in 2009 have started urging the Opposition not to blindly discredit the project without knowing its benefits since Friday. Notably, the ruling AIADMK, which has been engrossed in political turmoil within the party and the government, remains conspicuously silent on the issue with no major statement coming either from the government or its senior leaders.
However, groundswell of support from apolitical segment, especially environmental groups for the delta farmers fighting against the project could be seen since last week. Several apolitical youths who had networked through Facebook, just the same way they did during jallikattu protests, on Saturday gathered at Neduvasal and observed a one-day hunger strike.
Environmental groups like Poovulagin Nanbargal and Anti-methane Project Federation have been campaigning at the micro-level to raise awareness and muster support for delta farmers.
‘Think before you object’
Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan on Saturday urged people not to support any protest against the Neduvasal project ignoring the development factor. The minister who was in Tiruchy to attend a private function told the reporters that the projects already implemented in the state had also faced opposition. “Had the people opposed to NLC brought by Kamarajar, the condition of Tamil Nadu is unthinkable,” he said.