Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa on Saturday reiterated her earlier assurance to the farmers in the Thanjavur region that industrialisation will not be encouraged at their cost.
Addressing an election rally in this Tamil Nadu town, around 320 km from Chennai, Jayalalithaa, referring to the methane exploration project in Thanjavur, said: "If the project is implemented the ground water table will go far below down. There is a fear that the fertile delta region will turn into a desert. Hence an expert committee has been formed to make an assessment."
"I had earlier assured that my government will not encourage industrialisation at the fall of farmers. I reiterate that now," she said.
She also cited her government's decision to not accord environmental clearance to the Great Eastern Energy Corporation to drill wells for methane exploration.
Coming down heavily on DMK candidate T.R.Baalu, Jayalalithaa said he wanted to implement the project in Thanjavur in 1996 itself when he was a minister in the union petroleum ministry after seeing methane exploration in Rajasthan deserts.
Jayalalithaa charged Baalu of planning to turn the fertile Thanjavur belt into a desert.
The central government gave its sanction to the project in 2010 and the DMK government in the state signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Great Eastern Energy Jan 4, 2011, she said.
Charging Baalu of bringing projects to Tamil Nadu that are against people's interests, Jayalalithaa said the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project is another such project.
She also challenged Baalu to reveal how Meenam Fisheries - a company in which his wives are major shareholders - would be benefitted from the Sethusamduram project and the draft of the ships owned by the company.
Attacking the DMK, Jayalalithaa said the party did not take any steps to have the final award of the Cauvery Tribunal published in the central government's gazette.
On the central government's decision to permit field trials of genetically modified crops, she said it pains her.
She said the central government's decision would make the multi-national seed companies happy and not the farmers, who will have to approach the companies for seeds every time they plan to raise a crop.
"As a result the food production will become the preserve of few private companies," she said.