They fear the ventures will affect fertility of their land.

Villagers in different parts of Tamil Nadu used gram sabha meetings, organised on Republic Day, to pass resolutions against initiatives such as the hydrocarbon exploration and India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) projects, which, they feared, would be detrimental to their respective regions.

Arguing that the hydrocarbon exploration project, for which the Union government recently did away with the need to obtain environmental clearance and hold public consultations, would adversely affect the fertile agricultural belt, several panchayats in Pudukottai, Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts adopted resolutions at the gram sabha meetings.

Acknowledging that a resolution against implementation of hydrocarbon project was adopted at Neduvasal Kizhakku panchayat, its president K. Dakshinamurthy told The Hindu that a petition containing signatures of around 300 to 400 villagers opposing the project was handed over to the panchayat.

A resolution was adopted to the effect that the project should not be implemented in fertile areas in Pudukottai district.

Mr. Dakshinamurthy said the views of the villagers should be taken before implementing any project which could affect their livelihood.

The resolutions were adopted at other panchayats as well, including Pullanviduthi and L.N. Puram in Pudukottai district; Kadiramangalam, Kathirinatham, Pillayarpatti, Ambalapattu Therkku, Ambalapattu Vadakku and Rajendram panchayats in Thanjavur district, and Koodur, Varambiam, Kothamangalam, Adhirangam and Kattimedu panchayats in Tiruvarur district.

Mr. Dakshinamurthy, however, said the project could be taken up in non-agricultural areas. He said a copy of the resolution would be handed over to the Block Development Officer for submission to the District Collectorate.

K. Paneerselvam, president of Pullanviduthi panchayat in Pudukottai district, said a similar resolution was adopted.

Mr. Paneerselvam said Pullanviduthi and other nearby villages in its vicinity were highly fertile and implementation of the project would affect the agricultural community, farm labourers and others dependent on this profession. The project would eventually result in migration of farm labourers to towns and cities in search of employment, he feared. The villagers were slowly recovering from the Gaja cyclone and the rural economy was in a very bad state.

C. Chinnadurai of L.N. Puram panchayat in Pudukottai district said the first resolution to be adopted at the Gram Sabha meeting was on opposing the hydrocarbon project.

Villagers of Pottipuram panchayat in Theni district passed a resolution against the INO. The meeting was chaired by village panchayat president Selvaraj to whom the villagers unanimously urged that the observatory should not be allowed to take roots in the village.

“We strongly oppose the project as it is harmful to the environment and the Western Ghats. There are seven villages in the Pottipuram panchayat and the residents of all the villages are together in this decision,” said a resident, Muthuliram, from Ramakrishnapuram village.

In Kadalur panchayat under R.S. Mangalam union in Ramanathapuram district, villagers passed a resolution against the 2×800 MW Uppur Supercritical Thermal power plant, a project of ₹12,655 crore. It faced opposition from the villagers ever since the foundation stone was laid in 2016.

The Kadalur panchayat comprises five villages and has 5,000 people and over 3,200 voters. “The area falls under the ecosensitive zone as there are mangroves and wetlands. Even as construction is on for the plant, debris is being dumped in the sea that affects fishing. Moreover, we will lose about 300 acres of agriculture land if the plant is allowed,” said Murugavalli Balan, the panchayat president.

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