The proposed hydrocarbon projects in Neduvasal and Karaikal, which have run into rough weather, are not the first in Tamil Nadu, and they are as safe as three similar projects operating in the state, the Centre has said.
The projects would generate 500 direct jobs and Rs 300 crore, the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas said in a statement on Monday, and Tamil Nadu can earn `40 crore in royalty by implementing them. Seeking to dispel fears of environmental contamination and health hazards, ministry officials said misconceptions were fuelling protests in the state.
There are three similar operational exploration blocks of approximately 1,461sqkm in the state. “Under nomination regime, 31 mining leases (approximately 3,500sqkm) have been granted in the state from where 600 tonnes of oil and 30 lakh cubic metres of natural gas are produced per day. Till date, more than 700 wells have been drilled for extraction of oil and gas in Tamil Nadu. These active operations are not hampering agriculture in nearby areas and do not pose any known environmental impact or health hazards on living beings of the operational area,“ the ministry statement said. It said extraction of oil and gas is a well-established practice and the industry uses state-of-the-art technology and takes maximum care to protect the environment. “The operators also get environment impact assessment done before carrying out any drilling and other activities.“
The statement said oil and gas ex traction were being carried out from deeper earth area (generally 1,000m) and thus does not affect groundwater aquifers located at much shallower levels. Drilling and production of oil or gas require very limited surface land area (generally 120X120 sqm) which does not affect farming or the soil of the entire lease area. Additionally, operators are required to follow strict environmental norms for use of operational land, the statement said.
Allaying fears on methane being a dangerous gas, the government note said this gas was being used as household fuel globally as piped natural gas (PNG). Others concerns about adverse environmental impact on nearby areas and people living there are also misplaced, as all petroleum operations require clearance from the environment and forests ministry , wherein public hearing is an integral part. The ministry note also trashed allegations of irregularities in the process of awarding contracts to Gem Laboratories, saying these fields were offered through an open and transparent international competitive bidding process.
Neduvasal has been home to protests in the past few days, with agitators alleging that besides the impact on soil and underground water table, production of methane gas would impact the health of people living in the area. Gem Laboratories won the block, identified as CYONDSF Neduvasal 2016, in the first oil field auction conducted by the Narendra Modi government, in December. But protesters are mainly targeting ONGC since it remains the largest driller in the Cauvery basin, while others are small players, said an officer. Andrei Mironov Womens JerseyShare This