TN against GAIL laying pipelines on agricultural land: Jayalalithaa

The Jayalithaa-led government in Tamil Nadu has advised Gas Authority of India Ltd (GAIL) against laying gas pipelines in agricultural lands and instead asked the central gas utility to lay the pipelines adjacent to highways to avoid damage to agricultural lands.

The chief minister was responding to a calling attention motion in the state assembly today on GAIL's gas pipeline project linking Kochi gas terminal to Bangalore, which would traverse seven districts of Tamil Nadu - a distance of 310 km - through agricultural farms.

Jayalalithaa said the state government has decided to urge GAIL to run the pipeline adjacent to highways to avoid damage to agricultural lands.

GAIL has also been asked to restore fields to their original condition filling trenches cut and removing pipelines that have so far been laid in farmers' fields and compensate farmers for their losses, the chief minister said.

The Tamil Nadu government will inform the Madras high court of its decision regarding the pipeline project, she added.

Farmers, meanwhile, hailed Jayalalithaa's stand on GAIL's gas pipeline project.

The decision was taken after the state government conducted a series of court-ordered public hearings, in which 2,428 farmers from 134 villages had expressed concerns on the project.

GAIL had also made a representation to the state government through a letter dated 8 March 2013. It, however, has not given any strong technical reasons for avoiding the highway route for gas pipelines, Jayalalithaa said.