`ONGC plant should come up in Dakshina Kannada'

MANGALORE, DEC. 6. ``Tremendous employment potential would have flown into Dakshina Kannada had the proposed Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) plant been set up in the region as per the original agreement. It is up to the people of the district to press the authorities to set up the plant here,'' the president of Jaya Shree Parisara Samithi and former Vice-Chancellor of the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), B.M. Hegde, has said.

Addressing presspersons here on Monday, Mr. Hegde said the Rs. 25-crore investment that the ONGC had planned in the district would have initiated progress and development in the region. "According to media reports, the plant will now be shifted to either Tamil Nadu or West Bengal. With this move, the district has lost a very good opportunity for development,'' he said. The samithi would be holding public awareness camps in January to garner public support on the issue.

Mr. Hegde urged representatives of Dakshina Kannada district to press for the setting up of the plant in the region. "Very few people from the district have shown their eagerness to bring the issue to the notice of the authorities concerned,'' he said.

On the issue of industrial development in the region, Mr. Hegde said the Government was trying to initiate the setting up of chemical industries in the region. This was highly risky, he said.

Nagarjuna project

Speaking on the controversial coal-based power project of Nagarjuna Power Corporation Ltd. to be set up in Udupi district, Mr. Hegde said that instead of opposing it, the public should take initiatives to see to it that the proposed plant followed environmental guidelines.

"There were ample protests during the setting-up of the MRPL factory in the region years ago, but in spite of it all, the Government gave the go ahead for the plant. In the case of the Nagarjuna project too, it is just a matter of time before the plant is set up,'' said Ramachandra Baikampady, member of the samithi.

Mr. Hegde said the samithi would be forming a committee of environmental scientists and other experts in the field, which would assume the role of a watchdog. He sought a planning committee in the district which would look into various progress-related projects.

Employment opportunities for the people in the district could also rise if several non-chemical industries could be set up in the barren, uncultivated lands in the region.

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