Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday cautioned the Centre against going ahead with the proposed hydrocarbon project in the delta district of Karaikal and Bahoor block here and warned of “big protests” if it was not dropped once and for all.
Addressing a hurriedly convened press conference here, the Chief Minister said the Centre was acting in an “autocratic and unconcerned” manner by letting the Vedanta group take up drilling operations both offshore and onshore in Puducherry and Karaikal regions for the hydrocarbon.
He said he had received a letter a couple of days ago from the Centre stating that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification 2006 has been amended exempting hydrocarbon project proposed in the Cauvery delta region from public consultations.
He also said the Union Petroleum Ministry had informed the Puducherry government that the Vedanta group of company had been sanctioned permission to take up drilling operations in the Union Territory in addition to Villupuram and Nagapattinam in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
While 39 sq km in Karaikal would be taken up for drilling, an extent of two sq km land would be brought under exploration on shore in Bahoor in Puducherry. Narayanasamy said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan registering his government’s strong protest against the Centre’s “autocratic and unconcerned” approach in letting a private firm to take up the drilling operations.
He said he had also taken strong exception to the recent amendment to the EIA notification. “I have very strongly opposed the Centre’s stand that no no prior permission or clearance is necessary for the drilling operations from the concerned State government.”
If the Central government went ahead with its decision to let the private firm to take up drilling operations in the Union Territory despite the objection by the territorial administration, the Chief Minister said, “we would stage a big protest and this would include an agitation to protect fishermen and farmers.” Narayanasamy called upon the Centre to drop the proposal for the project in the Union Territory as it was an “injurious threat to farmers and fishermen.”
He alleged that the Centre was acting with utmost grudge and rancour against the Puducherry government and has been planning to disturb the fragile environmental zone in Puducherry and Karaikal districts through the hydrocarbon project. He wanted to know why the project had not been conceptualised for the northern part of the country.