The exit polls may have predicted the DMK and its alliance to sweep the Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu. But the AIADMK, seems unperturbed by Lok Sabha results. The party which is more concerned about its results in the bypoll – which will decide the continuance of its regime in the state – now seems confident to win it. The confidence reflects in the recent reboots of projects opposed by the people in the state.
While, the DMK needs to win 21 of 22 vacant seats in the bypolls, the AIADMK needs five seats to prove a majority (of 118) in the Assembly (with a strength of 234).
Historically, it has been proved that the ruling party in the state will have an upper hand in the bypolls. Sure about its victory, the AIADMK government has resumed three of its major projects – GAIL pipeline project, hydrocarbon exploration and eight-lane expressway- with renewed enthusiasm, despite these projects being opposed by the people.
Protests against GAIL
On May 17, residents of Mudikandanallur village of Nagapattinam raised a huge uproar after Gas Authority India Limited (GAIL), restarted its work of laying pipelines in their village. A photo of a JCB machine digging soil in a farm which was recently sowed, went viral on social media, much to the chargin of netizens and farmers who vehemently condemned the move of the government. Environment activist Iraniyan, also the founder of Thamizhaga Nilam Neer Pathukappu Iyakkam (Tamil Nadu Land Water Protection Movement) was arrested after he staged a protest against the project in the village.
“We have filed the bail petition. Till now the police does not say why Iraniyan was arrested and is being kept in remand. Only he has been arrested, although cases were filed against eight other members of the organisation,” said Arun Shori, one of the coordinators of the organisation. In spite of the protests, farmers say GAIL has not stopped working and continues digging the farmlands in the nearby villages of the same district.
Reboot of dormant projects
Farmers associations across the state have decided to stage protests from June 1, against the hydrocarbon project in the delta region of Cauvery. The Centre on May 11 gave Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) and Vedanta Limited a go ahead for environment impact assessment in areas where they plan to tap hydrocarbon by digging exploration wells.
The Chennai-Salem Eight-lane Green Corridor project, in a limbo till now, seemed to regain its momentum when bamboo trees inside the forest in Dharmapuri district earmarked for the project were felled on May 18.
“Forest department officials said the trees were cut under their orders. In a similar case last year, the Madras High Court had ruled that the felling of each tree should be compensated with the planting of 10 trees in the particular region. But the government under the excuse of felling dried trees, actually cut down greener ones,” said Arul Arumugam, a coordinator of the Movement against Eight-Lane Way.
The state government’s move comes against a recent High Court order which quashed the land acquisition proceedings for the project.
Addressing the media at Salem airport on Monday (May 20), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palanisami said that only seven per cent of people oppose the Chennai- Salem Eight-Lane Green Corridor.
“The government will not implement any anti-people project. All the projects will benefit only the people. In order to prevent accidents and for the growth of industries, roads are important. If crops are lost, we can grow them. But if lives are lost in accidents, we cannot bring them back,” he said.