CHENNAI: Amidst protests in the state against the hydrocarbon project in the Cauvery basin, and heated exchanges in the Assembly, as well, on Wednesday law minister C. V. Shanmugam said hydrocarbon projects would never be allowed in Tamil Nadu.
“The state government has not granted permission to either explore or produce hydrocarbon so far in Tamil Nadu and is firm on not giving the nod for such initiatives in future as well,” Mr Shanmugam said. Responding to a special call attention motion raised by DMK member T. R. B. Raja in the Assembly, the minister said the Centre has to obtain the concurrence of state government for such projects. “You are agitating as if the state government has permitted the project and creating an impression that we are in favour of it,” he said.
Raising the issue, Raja said environment and water resources would be affected by hydrocarbon projects and such initiatives were being opposed by all sections of people, including environmentalists. He pointed out to the recent human chain protest led by his party president M. K. Stalin. “Already, as admitted by the minister 55 blocks have been auctioned, and the Centre is gearing up for next two rounds,” he said and asked the Minister to reveal the recommendation of the expert committee formed to study the impact of such projects.
To this, Mr Shanmugam remarked that during the DMK rule in 2011, the party had permitted the General Electrical Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd to take up hydrocarbon exploration. “Then Congress government had allotted 961 sq km area for hydrocarbon exploration. Your father (former Union minister T. R. Baalu) was the Union minister then,” Mr Shanmugam said. As the treasury responded by thumping the benches, the Opposition DMK protested. Minister Shanmugam said quoting the committee’s recommendation
Resuming his reply, the minister said taking into account the feelings of the people and farmers, too, Amma (former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa) had formed an expert committee and based on its recommendations cancelled the permission granted by the DMK to the project. “The committee had said that no permission should be given for coal bed methane extraction in the entire Cauvery delta area,” Mr Shanmugam said quoting the committee's recommendation.
Raja however opposed, saying it was only a MoU for exploration and not a license for production.
Retorting, Shanmugam said exploration usually happened first and production later and wondered why permission was given in the first place to study the project when the state's stand was against anyinitiatives to do with hydrocarbons and related activities.
DMK deputy leader Duraimurugan said the nod for exploration given during his party regime wasdistinct from according permission for the project.
Leader of the Opposition and DMK president M. K. Stalin remarked despite the state claiming to be firm on not allowing the project, the Centre was bound to initiate the project.
At this, Shanmugam replied, hydrocarbon exploration or production initiatives on land fell under the state government's jurisdiction while offshore projects came under the Centre's domain. With regard to offshore initiatives, states had a say since the Coastal Zone Management Authority is under the state government and steps would be taken to oppose offshore hydrocarbon projects too through the authority, he assured....