CHENNAI, NEW DELHI: With the opposition to the hydrocarbon project at Neduvasal in Pudukkottai district becoming yet another round of criticism against the Centre, BJP leader from Tamil Nadu and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan and Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan engaged in a damage control exercise on Monday.
Radhakrishnan claimed that he has got an assurance from Pradhan that the views of the people of Neduvasal would be sought on the hydrocarbon project and that a further study would be undertaken to ascertain whether the project would affect the people in the area in any way.
“Even after all these measures, if the people do not want this project, we will not thrust this on them,” Radhakrishnan quoted Pradhan.
Later, talking to reporters after meeting Palaniswami, Radhakrishnan said Pradhan had explained that the hydrocarbon project was being implemented in six more States without any opposition. He also pointed out that similar projects had already been implemented in various parts of Tamil Nadu without any trouble to people. Further, there would not be any problem for the agricultural lands and environment.
His personal view on the issue was that the project should be implemented if was not against the interest of the people, Radhakrishnan said.
Responding to repeated questions on the project, Radhakrishnan said, “I would say a firm ‘no’ to the project if it would go against the interests of the people. But I would say a firm ‘yes’ if the project is in the interests of the people despite opposition from many political parties.”
Radhakrishnan said that when former President A P J Abdul Kalam wanted river interlinking for the benefit of the entire country, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi stood against it and ultimately Tamil Nadu became a loser. A similar situation should not recur.
On its part, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas sought to allay the fears. “Concerns about adverse environmental impact on nearby areas and the people living there are misplaced, as all petroleum operations require prior environmental clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Public hearing is an integral part for obtaining such clearances.... While drilling for oil and gas, cement casing is used. Hence there is no impact on groundwater as such. As the principal component of natural gas, methane is being used as household fuel globally, in the form of PNG,” the ministry said in a statement.
Hydrocarbon production will result in several economic benefits to State and its people in the form of royalty, VAT, additional employment generation and economic development, the ministry added.
Meanwhile, TNCC president S Thirunavukkarasar declared that the Congress will support the ongoing stir against the hydrocarbon project.