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Hydrocarbon exploration or production initiatives on land fell under the State government’s jurisdiction and offshore projects came under the Centre’s domain, Minister C.Ve. Shanmugam pointed out.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly on July 3 witnessed a heated debate between the members of the main Opposition DMK and Minister for Minerals, C.Ve. Shanmugam over the Centre’s Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy and a nod given in 2011 by the then DMK regime for exploration.

Mr. Shanmugam categorically said the State government had not granted permission to either explore or produce hydrocarbon so far in Tamil Nadu and was firm on not according sanction for such initiatives in future as well.

DMK MLA T.R.B. Raja, raising the issue, said environment and water resources would be affected by hydrocarbon projects and such initiatives were being opposed by all sections of people, including environmentalists.

Even recently a human chain protest was held against it, he said.

Speaking on a special calling attention motion, Mr. Raja claimed that a 2016 handbook of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons spoke of successful implementation of hydrocarbon initiatives in areas, including the Cauvery basin region.

The legislator, representing Mannargudi in the Cauvery basin, urged that the delta region in Tamil Nadu be declared as a protected special agricultural zone.

No persmission yet: Shanmugam

In response, Mr. Shanmugam, who also holds the portfolios of mines and law, said Tamil Nadu has so far not given permission for any hydrocarbon related projects and would not do so in in future as well.

Though 13 applications were received for exploration and production (at a later stage) from entities, including ONGC, the State government has not given permission to anyone, he added.

Hydrocarbon exploration or production initiatives on land fell under the State government’s jurisdiction and offshore projects came under the Centre’s domain, the Minister pointed out.

Though offshore initiatives came under Centre, States still had a say since the Coastal Zone Management Authority is under the State government and steps would be taken to oppose offshore hydrocarbon projects too through the Authority, he assured.

Nod was given only for exploration: DMK

When the Minister pointed out that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed in 2011 during the previous DMK regime with Great Eastern Energy Corporation Limited for a Coal Bed Methane initiative in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Raja opposed it, saying it was only an MoU for exploration and not a license for production.

Mr. Shanmugam said exploration usually happened first and production later and wondered why permission was given in the first place to study the project when the State’s stand was against any initiatives to do with hydrocarbons and related activities.

DMK deputy leader Duraimurugan said the nod for exploration given during his party regime was distinct from according permission for the project.

Human chain protest

The Minister wondered what the need was to hold protest against such projects when both the ruling AIADMK and principal opposition DMK were on the same page in opposing hydrocarbon initiatives.

Even a court recently asked the need for protests when the State government was opposed to it, Mr. Shanmugam said.

“Why a human chain protest when there is no permission for even exploration activity?” he demanded to know.

On June 23, a human chain protest was held in Tamil Nadu, in which the DMK also participated.

Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin said the protests were held to condemn efforts by the Centre to implement hydrocarbon projects despite the state government, making it clear it was firm in not allowing hydrocarbon initiatives.

(source :The Hindu)

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