T.N. opposes amendment exempting hydrocarbon project from consultations

CM writes to PM, Environment Minister seeking restoration of status quo ante

January 21, 2020 02:03 am | Updated 02:03 am IST - Chennai

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami

Strongly opposing the recent amendment to the Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, exempting the hydrocarbon project proposed in the Cauvery delta region from public consultations, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday urging maintenance of status quo ante and asking for the decision to be revoked.

In his letter to Mr. Modi, Mr. Palaniswami referred to the notification issued by the Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change on January 16, which had amended the earlier notification of 2006 mandating prior environmental clearance for certain projects, of which offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, development and production projects were categorised under ‘Category A’.

Recalling his earlier communication with Mr. Modi over opposition in Tamil Nadu to the hydrocarbon project, Mr. Palaniswami said projects involving exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons have always faced strong resistance from farmers/activists and other stakeholders in Tamil Nadu. “Since most of these projects are situated in the Cauvery delta districts, which is ecologically a fragile zone, but a very fertile region and the rice bowl of the State, the opposition to these projects has been emotive and intense,” he wrote.

‘Not consulted’

As it was quite “essential to take the people and all stakeholders along while implementing these projects, so that their cooperation and involvement is ensured”, the CM contended that the present notification went against this spirit. He also pointed out that no draft notification had been circulated as mandated and hence no opportunity was given to stakeholders and to the State government to offer views before the notification was issued.

Considering these facts, Mr. Palaniswami requested that status quo ante be maintained for the Cauvery delta region.

On January 16, the Centre issued an amendment to the provisions of the Environmental Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, for exploration drilling in respect of on-shore and off-shore oil and gas, vide notification stating that “All projects in respect of off-shore and on-shore oil and gas development and production except exploration are categorised under category A" and “All project in respect of off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration are categorized as ‘B2’ projects”.

Another letter making the same demand was sent to Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar.

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