The Central government’s decision to commence work on the hydrocarbon project in the Neduvasal field in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu under its new discovered small field policy triggers a vibrant agitation.
- Hydrocarbon is an organic compound consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon.
- Hydrocarbon exploration is the search of hydrocarbon deposits beneath the Earth’s surface, such as oil and natural gas.
Neduvasal Hydrocarbon Project: The Background
- The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs chaired by Prime Minister on February 15, 2015, gave its approval for all the hydrocarbon projects including Neduvasal Hydrocarbon Project as a part of the Centre’s 2015 ‘Discovered Small Fields policy’.
- The two contract areas, Karaikal (10.4 Sq km) located in Puducherry and Neduvasal (10.0 Sq km) located in Tamil Nadu were awarded under Discovered Small Field (DSF) bidding round.
- They have an in-place volume of 4,30,000 metric tons of oil and oil equivalent gas.
- The proposed Hydrocarbon Project at Neduvasal village in Pudukkottai district was recommended for award to GEM laboratories Private Limited, a company based out of Davangere in Karnataka for extraction.
Possible advantages of Neduvasal Hydrocarbon Project:
- This is a major step towards self-sufficiency in the crude oil production.
- The Government of India aims to use the Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) to reduce India’s crude imports by 10% by 2022.
- It aims to net revenue of Rs 9,300 crore from this project out of which the state is expected to get Rs 5,000 crore.
- This project is believed to pass economic benefits to the State and its people in the form of royalty, revenue, additional employment generation and economic development as per the petroleum ministry.
Reasons put forward by the protestors against Neduvasal Hydrocarbon Project:
- This hydrocarbon project would pose severe environmental problems and adversely affect the livelihood of farmers in and around Neduvasal.
- The farmers also claimed that the fertility of the land will be affected.
- There is also apprehension regarding the lowering of ground water level.
- The displacement of habitation of the people in the village.
- There may be no agricultural activity while the hydrocarbon exploration is on.
- The government didn’t have any information related to the exact location of hydrocarbon exploration and there is no clarity in how the crude oil will be extracted.
Assurances given by the authorities about the extraction process:
- The Exploration and Production industry uses state-of-the-art technology for the operations and takes maximum care for environmental effects.
- The operators also get Environment Impact Assessment is done before carrying out any drilling activities and other activities.
- The process of drilling and production requires very limited surface land area (120X120 square meters) which will not affect agriculture or the soil of the entire lease area.
- Operators are required to follow strict environmental norms for the use of operational land.
- The oil and gas extraction is being carried out from deeper earth area (more than 1000m) and thus doesn’t affect ground water aquifers which are located at much shallower levels.
- Hydrocarbon extraction method is being used worldwide which has not seen any direct impact to water resources of the mining area.
- And while drilling for oil and gas, cement casing is used; hence, there is no impact on groundwater as such.
- Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu gave assurances that any project which negatively affects farmers would not be allowed in the State.