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Tamilnadu govt moves ahead on petrochemical hub, officer to be in charge of building approvals

25 July, 2017

Nityanand Jayaraman
Times of India

CHENNAI: Notwithstanding the stiff opposition from political parties and environmentalists to the proposed petrochemical hub in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts, the government appears to be going ahead with the project. The 45 villages identified for the purpose will be part of a new town development authority headed by a member secretary.

"It will be like a township with a separate member secretary," housing and urban development secretary Dharmendra Pratap Yadav told TOI, adding that all permissions sought by companies for constructions in the area will go to the member secretary for approval.

A week ago, the state government notified 45 villages in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam districts as a Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Region (PCPIR). About 23,000 hectares of farmlands in the two districts will come under the purview of the petrochemical hub. The notification issued by the state housing and urban development department on July 19 declared delineation of the 45 villages as a Local Planning Area under Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act. Of these, 25 hamlets are situated in Cuddalore, Bhuvanagiri and Chidambaram taluks of Cuddalore district and the rest are situated in Sirkali and Tharangampadi taluks in Nagapattinam district. A majority of these hamlets are in coastal areas. The area earmarked for the PCPIR is spread across 230 square kilometres, which is larger than the size of Chennai district.

As per the policy of the department of chemicals & petrochemicals functioning under the Union ministry of chemicals and fertilizers, the PCPIR may include one or more special economic zones, industrial parks, free trade and warehousing zones or export oriented units duly notified under the relevant central or state legislation or policy.

Opposition parties including the DMK and PMK have criticised the government's move, saying the decision to establish a petrochemical hub will be detrimental for farmlands in the two primarily agrarian districts. PMK founder S Ramadoss said that 57,345 acres of agricultural land would be affected by the formation of the PCPIR.

When asked about the stiff opposition raised by political parties against the government's move to notify the villages as a petroleum and chemical investment region, urban development minister Udumalai K Radhakrishnan said that he would study the purpose of the PCPIR. "I am not aware about the aim of the PCPIR. I will study it and discuss the further course of action with the chief minister," he told TOI.

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