HC stays land acquisition for gas pipeline

PIL plea says if it is allowed Thoothukudi will lose its agri lands

MADURAI

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed a notification issued by the Centre and the State for acquiring lands for a proposed gas pipeline project in Thoothukudi district.

A Division Bench of Justices J. Nisha Banu and M. Dhandapani stayed the notification and adjourned hearing in the case. The public interest litigation petition had complained that agricultural lands were to be acquired for laying pipelines to supply natural gas to companies like SPIC, Sterlite and DCW in Thoothukudi district.

The petitioner, K. Chellam, an agriculturalist from South Veerapandiapuram, complained that Thoothukudi was already losing agricultural lands in the name of industrial development. Under such circumstances, Indian Oil Corporation was trying to acquire the ‘Right of User’ on agricultural fields for laying gas pipelines.

The proposed project, part of a cross-country project, would have an underground pipeline from ONGC gas fields in Ramanathapuram district to Thoothukudi district, at a cost of ₹700 crore.

This pipeline would not only destroy agricultural lands but also canals, rivers, forest and eco-sensitive areas, including the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, the petitioner claimed. The cross-country project, which did not initially include Thoothukudi-Ramanathapuram route, was subsequently altered to include the route. Environmental clearance for the altered route had not been obtained, he said.

The petitioner said that if the project was allowed, Thoothukudi district would lose its agricultural lands and sought a restraint on acquisition of agricultural lands.

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