The farmers of Neduvasal village and surrounding areas of Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu are on a peaceful agitation to protest against the project of hydrocarbon (compounds containing hydrogen and nitrogen, having high calorific value which can be used as fuel extraction in the areas). This is considered as major renewable sources of energy in the country. The premise of the peasantry is that the proposed project will cause sea water intrusion and significant damage to their agricultural lands. Besides, the area of oil extraction would be polluted causing injuries and lowering the health index of the people of the area. The exploratory well dug in 2009 has led to leakage in the land holdings near the well, but the government has not cleaned it up. The agitating agriculturists are on their war path with the evidence and experience of having noticed the pollution of land with the oil leakage.
Whatever be the expert opinions from the environmentalists and hydrocarbon technologists that there is no link between oil and groundwater , the ground water aquifers are at much shallow levels. When river water potentialities of agriculture in the State of Tamil Nadu have been diminishing alarmingly due to the incapability and deliberate prolonging of river water disputes between the States by the Central governing authority, the peasantry had to rely only on ground water to a larger extent. Geological scientists are of the opinion, if the ground water is drawn more there is every chance of sea water intrusion taking place. The hydrocarbon projects cleared by the present NDA government at the Centre led by BJP, which is construed as a way of reducing the import of crude oil has added fuel to the cold fire lying with the farmers. The move of the Central Government has ignited the cold fire to become explicit through their continuous agitation for more than a month.
Privatisation, an integral ill-effect of globalization has also crept in through the participation of private players in the bidding conducted for oil exploration auctioneering by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons from which Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC), an Undertaking of Government of India opted out. Besides for such a massive project, environment clearance has to be sought from the State Government. The Government of Tamil Nadu has neither cleared the project nor has been approached by the Central Ministry for clearance so far. How can the bidding process start when the respective State Government has not cleared it? Is it not the infringement on the rights of the State under the polity of Federal Governance? What is the need of the hurrying the project, when the background of certain private players and their integrity is doubtful owing to their saffron lineage during the past?
The opinions of hydrocarbon and geological experts may sound correct in academic parlance. When it comes to the level of execution, the reality of its deleterious effects to the prospective profession of the State has to be understood by the Central Government. Earlier reports on crude oil leakage in the Krishna delta (Andhra Pradesh), causing damage to Rabri crops, leaks from abandoned oil wells in Assam have reportedly been contaminating ground water and the soil are the proven facts on which the Centre has to pay its special and immediate attention.
Let the hydrocarbon projects bring umpteen numbers of benefits to boost up the economic performance parameters of the country. What is the use of buying the pictorial art after losing the vision? The concern of the agitating cultivators must be attended by the Central Government by reconsidering the hydrocarbon project and withdrawing them wherever the people of the project area resist. Let the ruling wisdom dawn at the Centre!