Karunanidhi wants conciliatory approach over GAIL project

Chennai, Nov 27 : DMK president M. Karunanidhi Wednesday advocated a conciliatory approach between the Tamil Nadu government and GAIL instead of approaching the courts, following the Madras High Court's quashing of a government order restraining a gas pipeline project through farmland in seven districts.

Responding to a query on his view on the state government appealing against the Madras High Court's recent order, he said: "Instead of fighting in the court, both the parties should discuss and come to a decision that does not affect the farmers."

The Madras High Court Monday quashed the Tamil Nadu government's orders restraining the gas pipeline project of GAIL through farm land in seven districts.

The company had challenged the state government's notification restraining it from laying gas pipes through farm land, and directing it to lay these along national highways.

As part of its around Rs.5,000 crore, 871-km gas pipeline project between Kochi-Salem-Bangalore, GAIL planned to lay the pipes in agricultural fields in Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, much against the wishes of the farmers.

Heeding to the high court's orders, the state government held public hearings in March this year to ascertain the views of the people.

In March, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa announced in the assembly that projects are for the people and not people for the projects.

She urged GAIL to remove the pipes already laid and lay them along the national highways.

Subsequently, the state government issued a notification to this effect.

Reacting to the High Court's orders, many political parties in the state demanded the government to appeal.

Even former union minister from the Congress K.V. Thangkabalu urged the government to appeal against the court order.

He said the Congress was not against development or farmers but are opposed to the company carrying out the project without paying adequate compensation.

He said what worried the farmers were the provisions in the contract with GAIL that make the farmers liable for damage in the pipeline and seven years imprisonment.

Thangkabalu said the pipes were laid at a depth of only three feet, making it difficult to raise crops.

--IANS (Posted on 27-11-2013)

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