Kerala coastal vulnerability: Expert panel report on LPG terminal backs locals’ concerns

The base of the terminal's mound should be above the highest level of storm surge and expected sea level rise, the panel recommends.

Written by Vishnu Varma | Kochi | Updated: November 15, 2017 1:33 am
Puthuvype LPG terminal: Expert panel raises possibility of risks of coastal erosion, tsunami The above picture is of an LNG regasification terminal in Puthuvype developed by Petronet Ltd. Work at the LPG terminal was halted last year by the NGT. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

An expert panel, constituted by the state government to look into the concerns of the residents near the proposed LPG terminal in Puthuvype, has raised the possibility of the risks of sea level rise, storm surge, and even tsunami, the Indian Express has learnt.

The yet-to-be-public panel report, submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) court on Monday, said even though statutory clearances were taken by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for the proposed terminal, some of the conditions for each of those clearances have not been complied with.

A source, familiar with the findings of the report, told the Indian Express on condition of anonymity that coastal vulnerability is a factor if the terminal were to come up without taking adequate precautions. “The risk from the sea is high. There could be storm surges and monsoon waves,” he said.

The base of the terminal’s mound should be above the highest level of storm surge and expected sea level rise, the panel recommends.

In fact, large sections of Puthuvype, a village 16 kilometres from Kochi, had gone under water when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck the area. Since May, 2009, residents of Puthuvype have been protesting against IOCL and the government arguing that its construction could inflict untold environmental damage and result in a large-scale displacement of people. Protesters have, over the years, clashed with police several times, the latest in June.

Another issue raised in the panel report is waterlogging. The official said the building of a road and some other construction activities in the area have blocked a drainage channel which increases the risk of waterlogging. “The drainage problem has to be addressed,” he said.

The panel has also suggested a committee to be formed under the chairmanship of the district collector and having members such as the local MLA, panchayat president, company officials and local residents. The committee should ensure that the solutions the panel recommends are complied with, the source said.

MB Jaya Ghosh, chairman of the protest committee in Puthuvype, said their complaints have been validated by the panel findings.

“This is not the appropriate place for the LPG terminal. See, we are not against the project. Our only request is to move the project to a place where population density is low,” he said.

“We had also raised concerns of coastal erosion. This place was completely flooded in 2004. We were there. Five people had died then. But they said there were no past incidents,” he added.

Puthuvype already has an LNG regasification terminal developed by Petronet Ltd. Work at the LPG terminal was halted last year by the NGT.

The three-member panel, headed by N Purnachandra Rao, director, National Centre for Earth Science Studies (NCESS), had met all stakeholders of the project and conducted a site visit before turning in the report. The report was submitted to the office of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan earlier this month.

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