Chennai, Jan 4 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government Friday defended the move to erect high voltage transmission towers through agricultural lands in western districts of the state and said protests by farmers against it were being “instigated”. Also Read - Kerala Tourism Industry Hit Due to Re-surge in Coronavirus Cases, Businesses Complain of Losses

Replying to a special call attention moved by the DMK on the issue in the assembly, Electricity Minister P Thangamani ruled out the possibility of laying underground cables, as demanded by farmers and opposition, saying such a technology was not available for high voltage transmission. Also Read - Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Tests Positive for COVID-19, Condition Stable

Noting that the project envisaged transmission of power from Chattisgarh, he said Tamil Nadu would get 4,000 mw once the project was completed. Also Read - Maharashtra Minister Bachchu Kadu Slaps Hospital Mess Staff Over Poor Quality of Food

He however assured the government’s commitment for farmers’ welfare and said they were being duly compensated.

Raising the issue, Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin demanded that the government opt for underground cable rather than overhead lines for the project.

He also wanted the Chief Minister K Palaniswami to hold talks with the agitating farmers.

Farmers in Tirupur, Salem and Erode districts have been opposing the project taken up by the Powergrid Corporation of India, as it involves erection of towers over farmlands for the high tension overhead power lines.

They have raised apprehensions of their land losing market value if such towers came up on them, and have been seeking a monthly rental from the government for the same.

They have also been demanding that underground cables be laid as part of the project.

Defending the project, Thangamani said it involved transmission of a total of 6,000 mw of electricity from Chattisgarh with 4,000 mw meant for Tamil Nadu and the rest for Kerala.

Work for developing infrastructure for the project was already underway in other states including Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, through which the transmission line would pass, he said.

The late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had strived hard to ensure that Tamil Nadu got power from Chattisgarh for which such a transmission corridor was required, he added.

Without naming anyone, the Minister said protests were being instigated “with the sole aim of bringing disrepute” to the ruling AIADMK in the western parts of Tamil Nadu, considered to be the party’s stronghold.

“Protests will only result in a loss for Tamil Nadu,” he said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.