Awareness level has increased among farmers in the region

The proposed methane extraction in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts will be a major poll issue in the Lok Sabha election in the Cauvery delta.

Voters in Thanjavur constituency are demanding a clear assurance from candidates to scrap the project.

S. Ranganathan, Secretary, Cauvery Delta Farmers’ Welfare Association, who organised many programmes for creating awareness about the environment problems that the methane project may throw up, says it was not advisable to take coal bed methane from delta districts.

“Food security would be threatened, water would be polluted and cultivable lands would be converted into deserts if the project was implemented, he said. “Livelihood of lakhs of farmers and farm labourers should be taken into consideration while deciding on such projects”, Mr. Ranganathan added.

There had been a series of agitations in the past one year by various organisations against the proposed Methane project.

Organic farming expert late G. Nammalvar took up extensive campaign in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts against the project.

With respect to the proposed methane extraction project, the plan was to extract methane from 695 sq km area in Thiruvidaimaruthur, Kumbakonam, Orathanadu, and Papanasam taluks in Thanjavur district and Kodavasal, Valangaiman, Needamangalam, and Mannargudi taluks in Tiruvarur district. For this, drilling will be done in 2,000 places. Hydraulic fracturing method would be followed to extract methane. Groundwater on the coal bed will be pumped out before extracting methane.

It is feared that this will destroy aquifers, turn cultivable lands barren and pollute the available water resources. Petroleum and Natural Gas department of the Union Ministry entered into an agreement with Great Eastern Energy Corporation, a U.S. based company, for extraction of methane in 2011.

Previous DMK Government in the State entered into a MoU with the company for extracting methane in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts in 2011. But in its poll manifesto, DMK wanted the project to be reconsidered. DMK's candidate for Thanjavur T.R. Baalu has committed himself against the project stating that he opposed the project. The AIADMK government had stayed the project and appointed a committee to go into the details of the project and submit a report.