Temporary relief for GAIL India

GAIL India Ltd has got some temporary relief with the Madras High Court restraining the State from taking any coercive action to remove the natural gas pipeline already laid by the company in the State.

Justice K.K. Sasidharan passed the interim order on a petition by the company which challenged the government’s decision directing it to lay the pipeline along the National Highways without affecting agricultural lands of farmers. Under the project, a pipeline is to be laid for transmission and distribution of natural gas from Kochi terminal to Bangalore. Nearly 300 km of the pipeline was to pass through Coimbatore, Tirupur, Salem, Erode, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts. The company had already invested nearly Rs. 685 crore out of the total project cost of about Rs.3000 crore, which included compensation to land owners for Rs.3.5 crore and the cost of procuring the pipes.

Following protests by land owners in the seven districts, the State government on April 2 this year directed the company to lay the pipeline along the National Highways without affecting agricultural lands. The company submitted that if the State government’s decision was allowed to stand, no other gas pipeline project could be undertaken in any part of the country. (Enquiries reveal that the pipeline had been laid partly in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts.)

When the matter came up, the Additional Solicitor-General, P. Wilson, submitted that the State government was now directing the company to remove the pipeline already laid. The Government Pleader, S.T.S.Moorthy, refuted this contention. He sought time to file a counter.

Mr. Justice Sasidharan said since the government wanted to file a counter in the matter and considering the background of facts, he was granting the interim injunction. He said the pipes stacked at various places for laying should not be relocated. The Judge said his order would not give any right to the company to lay new pipelines. The petition has been posted for further hearing on July 9.