Tamil Nadu

State has powers to decide on hydrocarbon projects: Centre

Babul Supriyo   | Photo Credit: Kamal Narang

The Centre has only changed the procedure for grant of environmental clearance for hydrocarbon exploration projects and the power to decide on whether to allow a particular project in a particular region remained with the State government, Babul Supriyo, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest, said in Parliament on Friday.

The Minister made the assertion in response to a query raised in the Lok Sabha by Dayanidhi Maran (DMK) seeking to know whether the Centre decided to issue environmental clearance for hydrocarbon projects without conducting public hearings and the impact of the decision in Neduvasal village in Pudukottai district, where the villagers had stalled an exploration project through a mass protest in 2017.

The MP’s query comes in the wake of stiff opposition from farmers and activists to the Centre’s recent move to amend the Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2006, exempting oil and gas companies from having to seek environmental clearance for exploratory drilling. Clarifying on the amendment, Mr. Supriyo said the Centre had only re-categorised on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration projects from Category ‘A’ to Category ‘B2.’

Category ‘A’ projects

However, on-shore and off-shore oil and gas development and production remained under Category ‘A’ and would require public hearings before grant of environmental clearance. Clearance has to be obtained for any on-shore and off-shore oil and gas exploration project from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA), which is under the purview of the State governments.

“Therefore, the power to take the decision, as to whether allow any particular project in any particular region would remain with the State Government. Further, such projects are required to obtain consent under the Air and Water Acts from State Pollution Control Boards,” Mr. Supriyo said.

His Ministry, in response to the concerns over “the agricultural zone in Cauvery belt” raised by the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, had clarified that the requirement of environmental clearance still remained and only the procedure for grant of the environmental clearance had been modified.

It has been informed that the State government had the power to take the final decision whether to allow any particular project in any particular region, he said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 2:18:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/state-has-powers-to-decide-on-hydrocarbon-projects-centre/article31005196.ece

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