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Centre’s amending notification for hydrocarbon project raises fears in Tamil Nadu

The move has raised fears in Tamil Nadu that the Centre will use this amended notification to clear the way for the proposed hydrocarbon projects in the ecologically sensitive Thanjavur and Cauvery delta region.

By: Express News Service | Chennai | Published: January 22, 2020 11:25:27 am
Centre's amending notification for hydrocarbon project raises fears in Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswamy. (Reuters Photo/File)

The Union government has amended the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2006 for hydrocarbon projects, allowing the Centre to bypass prior clearance and public consultation for such projects. The amendment, dated January 16, was passed without a draft notification, as mandated.

The move has raised fears in Tamil Nadu that the Centre will use this amended notification to clear the way for the proposed hydrocarbon projects in the ecologically sensitive Thanjavur and Cauvery delta region.

Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, urging them to restore the status quo of making prior environment clearance and public consultation mandatory for such projects.

“The status quo ante may be maintained for Cauvery delta region as it is an ecologically sensitive zone and necessary amendment may be issued to restore the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006 mandating prior environmental clearance and public consultation for off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration, development & production projects and categorize them under Category A for Cauvery Delta area,” the Chief Minister said in his letters.

Pointing out that no draft notification was circulated as mandated, and no consultation was done with stakeholders and the state government, Palaniswami’s letter said: “All projects with respect to off-shore and on-shore oil and gas development and production except exploration are categorized under category A… (and) all projects with respect to off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration are categorized as B2 projects.”

Making it clear that he opposed the hydrocarbon extraction projects in the delta area, Palaniswami said projects involving exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons had faced strong opposition from farmers, activists and other stakeholders in Tamil Nadu.

His letter also reminded PM Modi that most of these proposed projects are situated in the ecologically fragile Cauvery delta region, known as the rice bowl of the state. “So, it is essential to take the people and all stakeholders along, while implementing these projects. The present notification goes against this,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, the main opposition DMK has declared that it will start a massive agitation if the Centre goes ahead with the proposed projects.

On Tuesday, responding to Palaniswami’s opposition to the project, DMK chief M K Stalin it was just a “drama” enacted by the AIADMK, and that the state government “has no guts to question challenge or go against the Centre”.

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