Bundelkhand in central India sitting on natural gas deposits? Methane, helium gases leaking from
tube-wells in four districts
Backward region of Bundelkhand seems to be sitting on huge deposits of natural gases, as methane
and helium gases have been leaking from tube-wells at a stretch of 150 km spread over four
After recharging of tube-wells following good rainfall, the villagers have laid down pipelines and are
using the gas as fuel for cooking. Though it could prove disastrous, janpad panchayat representatives
said they have informed the administration. But, Sagar district collector Vikesh Narwal is clueless
about it. "I joined six months ago .I will find out about it," he told TOI.
However, Arun Kumar Shandilya, a professor of applied geology in Dr Hari Singh Gaur University,
Sagar, has been raising the issue for past over two decades. "It is happening in more than 50 tube-
wells over a stretch of 150 km in Vidisha, Sagar, Damoh and Panna districts. I have already intimated
the Union ministry of petroleum and natural gas, Oil And Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), director
general, hydrocarbons, and Geological Survey of India (GSI) about it," he told TOI.
Shandilya first got the samples of gases tested with ONGC and later at National Geophysical
Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad. "When the phenomenon is taking place across a long stretch
of 150 km it means something," the professor said. Villagers realised the inflammatory nature of the
gases when it triggered fire in water. This led to a dangerous trend of using these gases for cooking
purpose. Many villagers in Banda tehsil of Sagar laid down gas pipelines. The pipes were attached to
the tube-well from where the gases were leaking while the stoves are also attached with a long
piece of pipe. To switch on the gas supply, the two pipes are attached. When the two pipes are
detached, the gas supply to the stove stops.
Devi Singh of Khiriya village said, "The moment I light a match stick, it catches fire. I have been using
the gas for cooking and for any other purpose where fire is required." "I know it is dangerous and we
have tried to convince the villagers not to play with fire," said Dev Prashant Singh, janpad panchayat
president of Banda panchayat. Officials of the administration have already been informed, he said.