CHENNAI: The land acquisition process for drilling of 104 hydrocarbon wells in Cauvery delta region would commence only after environmental clearance is obtained, clarified Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) officials in response to a query raised by the Union environment ministry.
Usually, the land acquisition process is initiated parallel to obtaining statutory clearances.
However, the Office of ONGC’s Sub-Surface Manager of Cauvery Asset in Karaikal, in a letter dated July 29 to Member Secretary (Industrial Project-II) of environment ministry, said, “Land has not yet been acquired for these proposed 104 wells. Land acquisition... will be taken up after obtaining environmental clearance.”
On June 25, the ministry sought a copy of land allotment/lease from ONGC. ONGC’s decision might be the result of unrest against hydrocarbon projects and a Madras High Court ruling quashing land acquisition for the Chennai-Salem expressway.
The Centre challenged the order in the Supreme Court. When the case came up for hearing on August 22, National Highways Authority of India said getting environmental clearance before land acquisition would be “like putting the cart before the horse”.
In June, ONGC submitted a proposal for drilling 104 new hydrocarbon producing wells in 16 fields in the Cauvery basin. These will be development not exploratory wells. The estimated cost of the entire project is Rs 1,560 crore.