• Centre sticks to GAIL pipeline plan

    Dashing the hopes of some 2,430 farmers in the western belt of Tamil Nadu, the Union government has categorically ruled out an alternative route for the proposed Kuttanad-Kochi-Mangalore GAIL gas pipeline project.

    After the Supreme Court ordered in April that the pipeline be laid along its original route cutting across agricultural fields, the only ray of hope for the farmers was the possibility of a rethink on the part of the Union government and GAIL on the alignment. But a week ago, Union minister of state for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan told Parliament that the Centre examined the issue with GAIL and that the company’s response was that it was not feasible to lay high pressure cross-country gas pipelines along the highways as suggested by the affected farmers and the Tamil Nadu government. “Reputed consultants in the field of oil and gas pipelines have also expressed their opinion regarding technical non-feasibility of laying of high pressure cross-country gas pipelines for long distances along national highways,” Pradhan said.

    The state’s apprehension is that the alignment would cause irrecoverable damage to the agricultural property of several thousand farmers in the districts of Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. The pipeline will cover a distance of 310 km and farmers will have to give up land for a width of 20 metres along that stretch. It is estimated that over 1,20,000 fruit bearing trees will have to be uprooted to lay the giant pipes.

    Pradhan cited GAIL’s contention that there was non-availability of adequate space on national highways for movement of heavy duty crawler mounted equipment used for laying of pipeline, non-availability of land for installation of sectionalizing valve stations intermediate pigging stations required to be installed at regular intervals along the pipeline, safety and security concerns, and disruption of highways. But the state hopes to arrive at a solution fast. “The state government has recently received a letter from GAIL to join its 13-member expert committee, which includes Anna University professors, to resolve alignment issues, following CM’s request to PM Modi,” said a senior TN government official. Ricardo Allen Authentic Jersey

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