In a statement Ms Jayalalithaa said the union government controlled GAIL was taking up laying of pipes to transport industrial gas for a distance of 312 kilometers from Kochin-Salem-Bangalore. It had come to her knowledge that to complete this project GAIL was taking steps to lay pipes through agricultural lands in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts without the consent of farmers. A meeting chaired by her was held at the State secretariat today to discuss the issue, Ms Jayalaltihaa said.
The State minister for finance, minister for electricity, prohibition, and excise, minister for municipal administration, rural development, law, courts and prisons, minister for housing and urban development, minister for industries, minister for revenue, chief secretary and higher officials of the government participated in the meeting. Ms Jayalalithaa said that at the meeting she had said that no steps must be taken against the wishes of the farmers and that it was essential to hear the opinions of the farmers first.
Moreover, on the basis of the verdict of the Madras High court bench, she had ordered that meetings to seek public opinion should be held by the chief secretary on the 8th, 9th and 10th of next month. The details relating to the holding of the meeting would be published in dailies. Concerned farmers would also be informed about the meetings, the chief minister said.
Ms Jayalalithaa asked the farmers who would be affected by the GAIL project to participate in the meetings and express their opinions without any fear or intimidation. After the opinions of the farmers had been heard another meeting chaired by her would be held, she said. An appropriate decision without affecting the farmers would be taken at the meeting, Ms Jayalaltihaa announced.