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Govt. delineates 23,000 hectares for petrochemical complex

JULY 22, 2017

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
The Hindu

Activists say the project will worsen the situation in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam

Chennai: A year after it expressed its intention to delineate 45 villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts as Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) under the Town and Planning Act, the Tamil Nadu government has recently declared them so.

A notification by the Housing and Urban Development declaring the 45 villages in these two districts covering an area of 22,928 hectare was published in the State government gazette last week.

The State government, in January last year, expressed its intention to declare the delineation of areas covering 45 villages and had sought feedback — objections and suggestions — within two months.

In June 2012, the Centre approved the State government’s proposal to set up a PCPIR in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts and investments to the tune of over ?90,000 crore were to be made in the region.

Given that the SIPCOT story in Cuddalore is one of “sheer negligence, complete environmental and public health mismanagement and negligence by the State of its people”, the proposal for a Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR) is definitely not the way forward, says Shweta Narayan of the NGO Community Environmental Monitors.

"The SIPCOT experience has been that the only ones who have benefited are the industries," said Ms. Narayan, who has extensively studied the impact of chemical industries in the Cuddalore coastal region.

Food security issue

The activist felt that the PCPIR would only turn a bad situation worse. The coastal areas in Cuddalore, including the endangered mangrove forests in Pichavaram, are already under threat due to the petrochemical industries. There could be serious food security implications of such a move as well because Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts are a delta region with extremely fertile land, Ms. Narayan said. "The government can instead bring in industries that are not water intensive or hazardous in nature," she said.

A spokesperson of the Cuddalore-based SIPCOT Area Community Environmental Monitors (SACEM) said that while the project proposed land acquisition in 10 villages in Cuddalore taluk and 15 villages in Chidambaram taluk, the actual impact of PCPIR might extend well beyond these earmarked villages.

When contacted District Collector T.P. Rajesh said he was not yet aware of the official notification of PCPIR in Cuddalore district.

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