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Reason behind Farmers Protest in 13 Districts of Tamil Nadu

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

A few angry farmers in Tamil Nadu mimicked hanging themselves from the electricity transmission towers on 19th December, opposing an electricity project. The opposition is against the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited for executing the project as well as against the state government for being silent on the issue.

About 4,000 farmers from 13 districts in Tamil Nadu are demonstrating in 8 different centres across these districts since 17 December.

The project, which is carried out by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited along with Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation Limited basically involves building towers to facilitate transmission of High Tension electricity. The project was planned to bring electricity from Raigarh in Chhattisgarh to Pugalur in Tiruppur (Tamil Nadu) and then transfer to Thrissur in Kerala. The Ministry of Power, Government of India had approved the project in 2014 at an estimated cost of Rs 1,500 crore.

The 13 districts where the farmers are protesting includes Coimbatore, Trichy, Salem,  Tiruppur, Erode, Namakkal, Karur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram and Dindigul. The farmers here are completely against the project and allege that the construction of electricity transmission towers will deprive them of their livelihood.

Palanisamy, a farmer from Tiruppur district said that the power lines and the tower are harmful to farmers. “The presence of a power transmission tower will cut the value of farming lands. For instance, no one will give us loans based on our agricultural lands if there are towers on them and we cannot set up a poultry farm or dig bore wells with such towers on our lands”. He added that even if they want to sell their land later, no one will buy it.

The protesting farmers also allege that the police officers, who come with the company representatives for measuring land, use excessive force on the people. They also blame the police of manhandling women who resist officers who enter their lands without proper permission.

Rajendiran, a farmer from Coimbatore district said, “This project is implemented under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, which says, if people who occupy the land that is allocated for a project oppose the project, then the land owners should give a letter to the district collector, who will then call each owner and conduct an inquiry, after which if he considers it fit, he will give entry permission in advance to the officials. And only with that permission, those officials can enter the land”.

The farmer further told that despite filing so many petitions, no one was called for investigation by the collector either in Tiruppur or in Coimbatore. “In fact, one of our farmers had to lock his land with fencing. But the lock was broken by a group of officials who visited the farm along with the DSP of Sulur. And when the women in the house resisted, they dragged them out and locked them in police vehicles. This is atrocious,” the farmer said.

Farmers also asserted that though the ministers and officials agree that the project will harm their living, they still ask the farmers to give up for the sake of development.

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