Hydrocarbon projects by Vedanta and ONGC in TN Cauvery delta hit a roadblock
A response from the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) obtained under the Right To Information (RTI) Act has revealed that several hydrocarbon exploratory projects planned in the Cauvery delta region by companies like Vedanta and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are pending clearance from the government of Tamil Nadu.
The revelation indicates that these projects will now be considered new projects and hence might not receive the necessary permission from the state government to start work in the region.
Speaking to TNM, N Muruganandam, the Principal Secretary to Government (Industries department) said that an Expert Committee was formed six months ago to analyse the applications submitted by the companies to obtain the necessary licenses.
“The Committee is studying the proposals. Meanwhile, these projects have not been given any permission to start work in the delta region and will be considered as new projects for the purpose of processing the applications. Thus at least four out of the six pending blocks will not be granted licenses since the new Act prohibits hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the delta region,” he explained.
The Tamil Nadu assembly recently passed an Act declaring the Cauvery delta region as a ‘Protected Agricultural Zone’, and thereby barred several types of industries including hydrocarbon exploration from operating in the region. However, questions arose if the ban applies to new projects or does it apply even to projects that are already in the pipeline.
The government of Tamil Nadu has now stated that projects, whose applications for licenses like the Petroleum Exploration License (PEL) and Petroleum Mining License (PML) are pending with the state government will also be considered ‘new projects’ and therefore assessed against the newly passed Act.