Tamil Nadu

ONGC oil wells in State are unlicensed, say activists

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Cauvery Delta Watch releases report with data obtained under RTI from TNPCB

Members of the Cauvery Delta Watch said they had documents obtained from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) under the Right to Information Act which showed that ONGC’s hydrocarbon extraction wells are operating without necessary licences in the State. However, representatives of the ONGC denied this charge.

The Cauvery Delta Watch, comprising environmental activists and citizens from Cauvery Delta region, presented this information and opposed ONGC’s ongoing hydrocarbon extraction.

Addressing reporters on Friday, T. Jayaraman, chief co-ordinator of the Anti-Methane Project Federation, said that ONGC’s poor environmental record was borne out by their poor preparedness for disasters.

“Any incident of their oil pipelines leaking or bursting had to always be reported by members of the public living nearby and never did the organisation recognise a lapse in maintenance of their oil wells and pipelines on their own,” he said.

Questionable claims

Calling into question the licences given to the organisation, Mr. Jayaraman said that ONGC’s claims about operating in a legally permissible manner must be questioned in the light of the information revealed through the RTI response of TNPCB.

Cauvery Delta Watch, in its fact-finding report, has claimed that none of the 71 hydrocarbon wells that official records showed as operational in the delta districts, had a valid environmental licence under the Air and Water Act, as per TNPCB documents obtained by them.

“TNPCB has records only for 219 wells, whereas ONGC claims to have dug 700 wells in the delta districts. TNPCB records reveal that only 71 wells are operational — none with valid licences — whereas ONGC claims to have 183 wells in production,” the report said. But ONGC officials challenged this information.

Baseless charge: ONGC

“How can we operate in Tamil Nadu without obtaining necessary licences? These allegations are completely baseless,” Kulbir Singh, Executive Director – Asset Manager, ONGC, Cauvery Asset, Karaikal, told The Hindu. To a question on whether TNPCB has given Consent to Operate (CTO) under Air and Water Acts to the organisation, Mr. Singh said until 2013, there was no system of getting CTO and this was only recently introduced. “Since no such system existed earlier, our old wells operate without a CTO but that cannot be termed a violation,” Mr. Singh added.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 2:49:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/ongc-oil-wells-in-state-are-unlicensed-say-activists/article22912263.ece

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