Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain status quo on the requirements for environment impact assessment for off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration, under which it would require to conduct public consultation prior to such explorations, for Cauvery Delta region.
As per a notification in September 2006, the off-shore and on-shore oil and gas exploration, development and production project was categorised under Category A, mandating public consultation for mandatory environmental clearance for such projects.
However, the Ministry of Environment and Forests, under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, has issued an amendment to Environmental Impact Assesssment Notification, 2006, on January 16, 2020 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”. As per the said EIA Notification, B2 projects shall not require public consultation.
“I would like to bring to your kind notice that projects involving exploration and extraction of Hydrocarbons have 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 rice bowl of the State, the opposition to these projects has been emotive and intense. Therefore, it is very essential to take the people and all stakeholders along, while implementing these projects, so that their co-operation and involvement is ensured. The present notification goes against this spirit,” said the Chief Minister in a letter to the Prime Minister.
He added that the draft notification was not circulated as mandated and no opportunity was given to the stakeholders and to the state government to offer their views. He has also sought the government to restore the notification issued in 2006 and include the projects in Cauvery Delta area under category A. Palaniswami has earlier informed the Prime Minister highlighting the strong opposition to Hydrocarbon extraction projects in the delta area and the imperative need for adequate consultation with stakeholders and to ensure that the interest of farmers are fully safeguarded.