The Modi government has set its sights on making India a $5 trillion economy while addressing chief ministers of the states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared that he wanted India to be a "$5 trillion economy" by 2024.
The size of the Indian economy is currently around $2.8 trillion. To achieve this target, India needs to grow at an annual average growth rate of 11.5 percent in dollar terms for the next five years.
The target is achievable, however, large scale and organised protests against developmental projects in several states, most notably in Tamil Nadu, the second-largest contributor to GDP, could subvert this goal.
In the highly industrialised and urbanised state of Tamil Nadu, an unholy nexus of activists, well-funded NGOs and opposition parties is hell-bent on opposing almost all centrally-sponsored projects. They have not stopped short of shutting down even existing plants.
Sterlite Copper Shutdown
One of India's largest copper production plants - Sterlite Copper at Tuticorin – has been shut down by the ruling AIADMK state government after protests led to violence and police firing.
In 2017-18, the company produced about 48 percent of the country's total copper output of 842,961 tonnes. The closure is likely to cost India $2.8 billion in foreign exchange annually, according to an estimate.
Vedanta, the parent company, has been forced to appeal to the Supreme Court to reopen the plant. No Permission For Hydrocarbon Related Projects Farmers associations and Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu have voiced opposition to Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd's (ONGC) proposal to dig 104 wells across the Cauvery delta including Tiruvarur district (59 wells), Thanjavur (17), Nagapattinam (15), Cuddalore (7), Ariyalur (3) and Ramanathapuram (3), on the grounds that it would harm agriculture .
Political parties in Tamil Nadu are opposing not just ONGC but have opposed environmental clearance to Cairn Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited, which has been allotted two blocks and has been granted preliminary clearance to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for its proposed off-shore and on-shore oil and gas and appraisal projects in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
According to Shanmugam, Minister of mines and law, Tamil Nadu, the state has so far not given permission for any hydrocarbon related onshore projects and would not do so in future as well even though 13 applications had been received for exploration and production (at a later stage) from entities, including ONGC.
The DMK President MK Stalin has urged the Tamil Nadu's AIADMK government to take a policy decision not to allow hydrocarbon exploration in the state. Somebody needs to remind him that the SUVs that he and his colleagues in the DMK party are so fond of, use guzzle petrol.
Villagers are opposing GAIL which is laying the 29-km long underground pipeline for carrying gas between the ONGC’s field in Madhanam and Memathur in Tamil Nadu. The pipes, which cut through agricultural land in Nagapattinam district, are being planted at a depth of 1.5 meters and have a diameter of 24 inches.
Villagers are opposing GAIL which is laying the 29 km long underground pipeline for carrying gas between the ONGC’s field in Madhanam and Memathur in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.
The pipes, which cut through agricultural land in the district, are being planted at a depth of 1.5 meters and have a diameter of 24 inches.
There is also opposition to the Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited’s Irugur-Devangonthi petroleum and petroleum product pipeline project. BPCL is about to lay a 294 km pipeline through the fertile lands of seven districts of western Tamil Nadu – Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal, Salem, Dharmapuri, and Krishnagiri, to carry 3.52 million tonne petrol every year from Irugur in Coimbatore to Devanakondhi near Bengaluru in Karnataka. Chennai-Salem Highway not just industrial projects but even infrastructure projects are being vehemently opposed.
Sections of landowners and political parties in Tamil Nadu are opposing the 900-feet-wide greenfield express highway with an eight-lane between Chennai and Salem, covering 277.3 kilometers.
This is part of the centrally-sponsored road-building program known as Bharatmala Pariyojana project. Among the reasons for the opposition is that it would pass through eight reserved forests and that there were already three roads connecting Salem and Chennai. In April 2019, the Madras High Court had quashed land acquisition for the highway forcing National Highway Authority of India to appeal to the Supreme Court to vacate the stay. The highest court is yet to rule on it.
Neutrino Observatory (INO)
Even a science project- the Neutrino Observatory (INO), an underground laboratory primarily aimed at the study of atmospheric neutrinos, is being opposed. Leading the opposition is the irrepressible Vaiko who heads one of the many splinter regional parties in Tamil Nadu and has just been re-elected to the Rajya Sabha.
He has moved the Madras High Court arguing that the project will be disastrous for the people in the vicinity.
(Author is from Escorts Securities)