Tamil Nadu

Methane company winds up office in Thanjavur

Workers loading a truck with furniture from the Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited office in Thanjavur on Sunday.

Workers loading a truck with furniture from the Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited office in Thanjavur on Sunday.  

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UPA govt. had given permission to GEECL in 2010 for exploration prospects

In a huge relief to the Cauvery delta eco-conservationists, the Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited (GEECL), a pioneer coal-bed methane extraction company, wound up its Thanjavur office on Sunday, making a quiet exit, pretty much in the same manner it had sneaked in to set up shop.

The GEECL has been at the centre of a controversy over its bid to implement the much-feared coal-bed methane extraction project, which many informed people said could ruin agriculture in the delta districts of Thanjavur and Tiruvarur. The office had been functioning here since 2012.

Eyewitnesses said labourers loaded material and office furniture on to trucks from the GEECL office at Mary’s Corner quickly and left for an undisclosed destination. There was no one on the office premises, partly because of the weekend and also because everyone had left the station, to explain the current status of the operations.

The GEECL office had been involved in buying land from farmers, appointing field executives and undertaking ground-level operations for methane exploration. Following strident opposition from all sections of society, the Thanjavur office had remained shut on the front since the beginning of this year with the name board having been removed.

Political parties and social activists have been demanding that the State government allow the memorandum of understanding it had signed with the GEECL in January 2011, during the DMK regime, to lapse. In July 2013, the former Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, asked GEECL officials to suspend all operations until the government took a final call, based on the views of an expert group constituted to study the pros and cons of the project.

The MoU granted the GEECL rights to sink very deep borewells in the two districts to seek commercial exploitation and marketing of methane. The then Manmohan Singh-led Central government had granted permission to the GEECL in 2010 for methane exploration in the two districts. The Mannargudi block, allocated to the company, covers an effective area of 667 square kilometres. The company was awaiting the State government’s approval to start work.

While the Left parties have been demanding the project be scrapped, MDMK general secretary Vaiko has been undertaking an intensive campaign in the region in the past few days to press for its immediate shelving to safeguard the livelihood of the people.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 6:42:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/methane-company-winds-up-office-in-thanjavur/article6691350.ece

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