Centre on collision course with Tamil Nadu

Undeterred by Tamil Nadu protests, Union govt to sign deal with firms to explore hydrocarbon.

Chennai: Disregarding high-voltage protests by Tamil Nadu government and people of Neduvasal, the Union Government will sign an agreement on Monday with two companies for exploration of hydrocarbon in Pudukottai district.

The signing of the agreement for exploration of hydrocarbon in 31 fields across India is likely to set the stage for yet another showdown between Tamil Nadu and Narendra Modi-led NDA Government at the Centre.

The two governments had been at loggerheads over several Centally sponsored projects like Uday and Chennai Maduravoyal-Chennai Port elevated corridor. However, the state government had caved in to Centre’s pressure after a couple of years.

The standoff on Neduvasal project is set to escalate since the stand of both the governments is poles apart. While the Tamil Nadu government had made it clear on the floor of the House that it would not allow the hydrocarbon extraction project in Neduvasal due to concerns raised by villagers, the Centre is hell-bent on implementing it.

“The minister of state (I/C) for petroleum and natural gas, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, will preside over the signing of contracts with awardees of DSF bid round 2016 (in New Delhi on Monday),” an invitation from the Press Information Bureau said.

The event comes just four days after Pradhan said the petroleum ministry was even ready to conduct tripartite talks between the Union Government, state government and the locals to find out an amicable solution to the raging controversy.

Pradhan told representatives from Neduvasal that they can choose any IIT of their choice to give expert opinion about the benefits of the project.

Not final approval
Sources in the Union government said the MoU will be signed between the companies and the Union petroleum ministry for ‘exploration of the project’ and this is not the final approval.

“This is just an understanding between the firm and the Centre. If the state government wants it can nix the project since it will be involved in getting permissions and clearances for executing the project”, the source said.

Neduvasal protesters have TN word
The Union government approved the hydrocarbon extraction project on February 15, but people of Neduvasal erupted in anger against the scheme and protested for more than a fortnight inside village and elsewhere.

After an assurance from Tamil Nadu government that it would not allow any such project, the protest was withdrawn.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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