THOOTHUKUDI: No hydrocarbon extraction is taking place right now in Tamil Nadu, said Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameswar Teli in response to a query in the Lok Sabha.
Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi had asked if the Union government had considered cancelling the bids called for hydrocarbon extraction in the Protected Agricultural Zone in Tamil Nadu, as requested by the Tamil Nadu government.
The written reply of the minister stated that the Centre has launched Discovered Small Fields Bid Round-III (DSF-III) on June 10, offering 32 Contract Areas comprising 75 discoveries spread over approximately 13,204 sq. km acreage across the country for extraction of hydrocarbons. This comprises one Contract Area with two Petroleum Mining Leases (PMLs) of Vadatheru and Ramanathapuram covering Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu.
The PMLs for these areas were granted in December 2007 and November 2012 respectively. Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) and PML were granted under ‘Oilfields (Regulation & Development) Act, 1948’ and the ‘Petroleum & Natural Gas Rules, 1959’ by the state government for on shore areas. No extraction is taking place now, the reply said.
Even as the Union Petroleum Ministry launched the bids for Discovered Small Fields Round-III (DSF-III), Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his earnest intervention to cancel the bid for the development of oil and gas fields in Vadatheru of Pudukottai which falls in the Cauvery delta basin and is protected under the Tamil Nadu Protected Agricultural Zone Development Act, 2020. The Act prohibits any new exploration for extraction of oil, gas and other hydrocarbons.
The Cauvery Basin, which the CM pointed out as being an ecologically fragile zone, is the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. It is the livelihood of several hundred farmers and farm hands, and calling of the bid by the Union government had already triggered agitations here, he said in the letter.