Farmers’ body seeks panel of experts to probe its implications

A major controversy is brewing in Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts over a proposed Rs. 3,500 crore coal-based methane project.

The Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd (GEECL) has proposed to drill the first set of 50 core holes and 30 pilot production wells there.

Inaugurating a dawn-to-dusk fast organised by the Tiruvarur district unit of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangham, Mannargudi S. Ranganathan, general secretary of the Cauvery Delta Farmers Welfare Association, lambasted the “secrecy” maintained by the company while going ahead with the project.

When there was a public hearing in January, none of the members of the public of Tiruvarur and Thanjavur districts were informed in advance. “If it is a good project, let the State Government itself take it up. This is not going to be just prospecting for methane. It is a prelude to mining of coal\lignite”, he alleged.

[According to Prashant Modi, president and chief operating officer of GEECL, who held a press conference on October 5, the Mannargudi asset is attractive with strong potential. Spread over 667 sq.km, the area is estimated to have the potential for 0.98 trillion cubic feet, according to the Directorate-General of Hydrocarbons. The current programme of prospecting, entailing investment of Rs. 100 crore over the next few years, is important since it will help the company arrive at a clearer estimate with regard to the quantum of gas in the block].

He feared that the project would spoil 1.75 lakh acres of cultivable land (virtually one third of Tiruvarur district) hitting food security.

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