MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court stayed a notification issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for laying gas pipelines for transporting natural gas from Ramanathapuram to Thoothukudi, following a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), challenging the notification.
The litigant K Chellam of Saminatham village in Thoothukudi submitted that through the impugned notification dated October 5, 2018, the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) proposed to lay underground gas pipelines at a cost of `700 crore from the gas fields in Ramanathapuram to supply natural gas to its anchor customers — Southern Petroleum Industries Corporation (SPIC), Sterlite, and Dhrangadhra Chemical Works Limited (DCW) in Thoothukudi.
For this purpose, the IOCL planned to acquire several acres of agricultural lands in South Veerapandiapuram and Saminatham villages in Thoothukudi, including her land, the litigant stated.
The litigant also claimed that though the proposed pipeline would cross a number of rivers, canals, roads, forest areas and eco-sensitive zones, no environmental clearance had been obtained for the project.
Moreover, he Ministry issued a subsequent notification on February 18, 2019, declaring the acquisition of ‘Right of User’ of the said agricultural lands, Chellam said. Pointing out the rules prescribed in the Central Act 50 of 1962, which stipulates that ‘no right of user of land can be acquired for the purpose of laying pipelines unless the Central government declares its intention by notification in its official gazette and disposes of objections filed over the notification’, the litigant alleged that the villagers were not provided such an opportunity. Therefore she prayed the HC to quash the notification.