Methane extraction project hits roadblock

 In a major relief to the Delta farmers, the Tamil Nadu government has issued orders not to go head with the multi-crore Coal Bed Methane (CBM) extraction in Tiruvarur and Tanjavur districts of the state.

“It has been decided that permission will not be given to the Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEECL) to proceed with the project,” the government’s order said.
The GEECL obtained permission from the Centre to explore and generate CBM at Mannargudi Coal Bed Methane Block in an area of about 700 sq km in Tiruvarur and Tanjavur districts.

The Tamil Nadu government, in its order, asked the Centre to drop the project taking into consideration the concern of Delta farmers. “The state government has to be consulted before initiating such project,” it said.

The Industries Department also decided to accept the report of the technical experts’ committee constituted to study the impact of the CBM exploration project on environment, sea water intrusion, food security and livelihood of farmers in the Cauvery delta region.

The order states that the expert committee was constituted last year by the chairman of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB).

The committee submitted its report on July 28, 2015.

The committee pointed out the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report submitted by GEECL lacked data on the ground water flow pattern in the project area, data on micro elements and the possibility of methane leaking through the aquifers.

Further, the finding said that GEECL did not submit letters of consent from the authorities concerned, the Central Ground Water Board and Public Works Department (PWD), for huge withdrawal of ground water for the project.

Citing a study undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the committee report said that there is a possibility of hydro-geological disturbances in the area due to the extraction of ground water.

“Based on these recommendations, the state government has denied permission for the CBM extraction project,” the order said.

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