At a time when Kadiramangalam village is witnessing a massive protest over leakage from wells belonging to the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) has recommended Standard Terms of Reference (ToR) to the ONGC’s proposal for the development and drilling of 110 oil and gas wells and establishment of a central processing facility in the Cauvery basin.
Apart from the Standard ToR, the EAC has directed additional ToRs to be completed, including public hearings, to prepare Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) reports, according to the minutes of the EAC meeting held last month.
The ONGC has proposed to drill 110 wells in the Cauvery basin in Adichapuram, Kizhvelur, Kanjirangudi, Palk Bay Shallow, Periyapattinam, Perungulam, Tiruvarur, Mattur, Nannilam, Narimanam, Adiyakkamangalam, North Kovil Kalappal, Kuthalam, Kali, Madanam and Pandanallur. It has estimated the project cost to be ₹194 crore.
The ONGC has submitted before the EAC that there are no national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, biosphere reserves, tiger/elephant reserves or any wildlife corridors within 10 km distance of the proposed drilling sites. “The Koduvaiyur river, the Odampokkiyar river, the Vellappar river, the Uppanar river, the Chittar river and the Vaigai river are located within 10 km distance of the drilling sites,” it said.
The company said the total water requirement would be 25 cubic metres per day per well, “which will be sourced from nearby water source”.
Recommending the ToR, the first in a series of steps that would either lead to approval or rejection of the proposal, the EAC made it clear that no construction activity (other than for securing land) should be started without obtaining prior environmental clearance.
While asking the company to earmark at least 2.5% of the total project cost towards social commitment, the committee said the ONGC should submit a five-year plan in this regard.
The EAC has mandated that public hearing be conducted in all the districts where drilling sites are located.