Tamil Nadu

‘Environment study has failed to cover all flanks’

Taking into account a spectrum of issues and factors, the Expert Technical Committee, formed by the government to look into the matter of exploration and production of coal bed methane project of M/S Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited in the Mannargudi Coal Bed Methane (CBM) block over an extant of 691 sq km in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts, proposed either rejection or review of the project.

Criticising the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for its failure to cover all flanks, the panel wanted a more detailed EIA that would throw light on vital information on the hydro geological history of the block, trace element data, isotopic composition of groundwater and possible leakage of methane gas in the aquifers among others.

Calculating the derivative results of the project, the committee report stated that over 25 years of production life, the quantum of gas proposed to be extracted from all the CBM blocks might be two million cubic metres per day, just enough to fire a 450 MW power plant for 25 years. That was not a substantial quantum of energy considering the other adverse impacts of the project.

Further the panel, as stated in the GO, pointed out that the rice production in the target area of 4,266 acres of fertile land would feed 2.77 lakh people lifelong. But the production phase of the project would benefit just 1,000 skilled or semi-skilled workers daily.

To arrive at the cost benefit analysis of the project, gas value as well as complete data on existing consumers, proposed growth of vehicle population, cost of alternate fuel, damage caused to the environment, socio impact assessment needed to be calculated. The GEECL had not done the survey, the GO maintained based on the committee report.

The panel pointed out that the United Nations Development Programme had investigated the area and suggested that methane exploration would lead to land subsidence, leading to geotectonic movement.

Continuous drawal of groundwater on a large scale would further deplete its level affecting the people of the region.

The GEECL had not produced the approval of the Central Ground Water Authority or the State PWD that were the competent agencies for such issues, the committee had stated.

There were chances of methane emission and other air pollutants from CBM well sites. Toxic emission and atmospheric thermal inversion would take place thereby causing reduction in rainfall, the recommendations stated.

The Vaduvur Birds Sanctuary located on the south western part of the Mannargudi CBM block might be affected by way of noise pollution, atmospheric heat and toxicity that might force the birds migrate.

Thousands of gas wells drilled could never be removed and there was always the lurking danger of gas pipeline explosion inflicting irreparable damage to life, property and ecology, the panel had suggested while recommending that the project be either rejected or reviewed comprehensively.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 10:27:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/environment-study-has-failed-to-cover-all-flanks/article7751607.ece

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