CHENNAI: Opposition parties and environment NGOs have slammed the Centre for allegedly giving 'preliminary' approval to Vedanta to drill hydrocarbon wells in Tamil Nadu's rice bowl.
The government has not granted the request from Vedanta for exemption from the mandatory public hearings for the project that together would entail investment of Rs 13,550 crore. Vedanta is already in trouble over the closure of its Sterlite copper smelter plant at Tuticorin.
Taking to Twitter, DMK president M.K. Stalin hit out at the BJP-led Central government and the ruling AIADMK, “even when they are on their way home, the BJP government and the AIADMK government have joined hands to give this dangerous permission, and decided to commit treachery against Tamil people. This is condemnable."
He sought the Election Commission to cancel the approvals granted by the Union Ministry as it comes when the Model Code of Conduct is in place. Stalin also said, “at a time when people in the Cauvery delta region - and indeed, across Tamil Nadu – have been struggling under the weight of draught and drinking water scarcity, AIADMK’s coalition partner BJP's government has given environmental clearance to dig hydrocarbon wells in Villupuram and Puducherry regions.”
AMMK leader T.T.V. Dhinakaran who lashed out at the AIADMK government, said CM Edappadi K. Palaniswami to register his opposition to the project. VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan too flayed the Centre, saying, “Modi’s BJP Government is paving way to convert Puducherry and Villupuram into graveyard like they did in Thoothukudi by opening Vedanta’s Sterlite factory.” Alleging that the BJP had received hefty donation from Vedanta during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, he said the Modi's government which is serving as ‘benami’ of corporates had given the nod at the eleventh hour to show its 'gratitude.' The people will give a fitting reply (in the Lok Sabha election) if the Edappadi government supports the Centre on the issue, he added.
Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayansamy said he would not grant permission to Vedanta for exploring oil and gas in the state. There is resistance also from TN farmers. Farmers’ association in Tiruchy has planned protests on June 1. Similar association in Ramanathapuram will form a human chain on June 12.
Cairn Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of Vedanta Limited, 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 TN and Puducherry. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) gave its nod to Vedanta for drilling 274 exploratory wells in Bay of Bengal, Nagapattinam and Villupuram, Puducherry and Karaikal, and to carry out seismic surveys in hydrocarbon blocks.
While Vedanta had been allocated two hydrocarbons exploration and production licenses by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) in 2017, it submitted its application seeking Terms of Reference (ToR) for the EIA in April this year. In order to get environmental clearance, Vedanta will have to submit its Environment Impact Assessment study, which includes a mandatory public hearing....