THANJAVUR: A huge posse of police was deployed at Kathiramangalam near here as energy major ONGC commenced work on reworking its oil well in the village on Friday. The oil major aborted the procedure last month following protest from locals who suspected the company was exploring coal bed methane.
On Friday, as men and machines started work, anti-Methane project coordinator professor Jayaraman tried to mobilise residents for a meeting at the village temple to discuss a possible struggle. He was arrested along with over 350 residents.
Sources said ONGC has been operating an oil well in the village since 2000. In May this year the yield reportedly dipped and the company decided to service the well to sustain production. A maintenence routine had been was scheduled on May 19. Seeing equipment being moved to the oil field, the villagers suspected the company was about to start work on exploring Coal Bed Methane (CBM) and Shale gas and staged a protest at the site.
Professor Jayaraman led the protest and work was stopped. Subsequently, a peace meeting was arranged on May 25 by Assistant Collector of Kumbakonam Pradeep Kumar but it ended in deadlock. On its part, ONGC denied exploration of CBM or Shale gas and explained it was exploring only crude oil at the site. In the backdrop of the protest, on Friday over 250 police personnel were deployed in the village as ONGC started work on the well. Meanwhile, 12 persons, including Professor Jayaraman, who gathered to discuss the future course of action were arrested.