Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday adopted a bill that will prohibit projects involving exploration, drilling, and extraction of oil and natural gas including coal-bed methane, and other similar hydrocarbons and ship breaking industry in the Cauvery delta region of the state.
The prohibition clause of the Bill said: 'No person shall undertake any new project or new activity specified in the Second Schedule in the protected agricultural zone."
Welcoming the decision, Chief Minister K Palaniswami who piloted the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Bill 2020 and called it "historic."
Aimed at protecting agriculture in the delta areas, considered the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, the Bill also seeks to establish a high powered authority to be led by the Chief Minister to protect and improve farming.
Suggesting measures for fostering infrastructure for food security will be a key function of the authority.
The main opposition, DMK and its allies including the Congress which welcomed the Bill, however, staged a walkout since their plea to send it to Select Committee was not entertained.
Apart from coal-bed methane, shale gas and other similar hydrocarbons and ship breaking industry, the schedule of prohibited projects include covers zinc smelter, iron ore process plant, integrated steel plant and sponge iron plant.
Also, copper smelter, aluminium smelter, bone meal, processing of animal horn, hoofs and body parts and tannery are included.
However, activities or projects in operation in the protected agricultural zone will not be affected.
Also, infrastructure developments in the zone such as harbour, pipelines, road, telecommunications, power, water supply and other utilities are excluded from the Bill.
The prohibition applies to Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam districts that form the core of Cauvery delta region in Tamil Nadu besides several blocks of Cuddalore and Pudukottai districts.