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Over the last one week, the village in Pudukottai district, the centre of the contract area for small fields exploration and prospecting for hydrocarbon, has become the hub for demonstrations against the proposal by ONGC.
Farmers in the primarily agricultural area fear that the environmental impact of these activities will destroy agriculture.
There are over 80 villages in the contract area that will be affected. Families from each of these villages will take turns to come to Neduvasal daily to keep the demonstrations going, Vijayakumar said. “On March 1, traders in Pudukottai district will down shutters in support of our demands; every house will fly black flags. We will organise agitations in the district headquarters, involve elected representatives from councillors, MLAs and MPs, surrender our voter ID cards and, if needed, convene our own village committee,” he said.
“At a meeting of people from the affected villages today, we have resolved to keep the demonstration going till the government listens to us,” he told BusinessLine over the phone. The representatives are also planning to meet Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Friday, he said.
Everyday, people are coming in from across the state. “We are worried as we have no idea who these people are,” Vijayakumar said. Most of them are youngsters, college students and environmentally concerned people from other cities, including Chennai.
“But, we do not want a repeat of what happened on the last day of the Jallikattu demonstration in Chennai,” he said, referring to the violence in January following the police action to clear the demonstrators.
“That is why we do not want to involve outsiders. We do not know the kind of people who will turn up to protest. We have allowed a few students to participate and turned away quite a few, who are demonstrating on their own elsewhere,” he added.
CM meets PM
Meanwhile, according to an official press release, the Chief Minister who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi has conveyed that it would not be advisable for ONGC to proceed with any mining activity in Neduvasal village without clearance from the state government.
This was among a number of other issues that Palaniswami represented to Modi. The Chief Minister said the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry should consult with the stakeholders andensure that their interests are protected, said the press release.
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