PUDUKKOTTAI: After decades of demand by residents of Neduvasal, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has finally agreed to dismantle the exploratory oil wells in the area and hand over the land back to owners, sources said. The move comes days after people of Neduvasal East village panchayat adopted a resolution, seeking dismantling of the oil wells.
A team of seven officials from ONGC Karaikal inspected the oil wells in 4.5 acres of land at Vanakkankadu on Tuesday evening, said K Dakshinamurthy, president of Neduvasal East village panchayat.
Exploratory oil wells were dug in six places near Neduvasal – Vanakkankadu, Kottaikadu, Karukkakurichi, Karambangudi and Vadakadu – in the early 90s. Dismantling of the wells and returning the land to the owners have been a constant demand by villagers for the past two decades. The demand amplified during the 200-day protests at Neduvasal against a proposed hydrocarbon extraction and development project in 2017.“During the protests, the Collector assured us that steps would be taken to clear the oil wells and restore the land within six months. However, it has been more than three years and nothing has been done. The issue was raised at our grama sabha held on Saturday,” said Dakshinamurthy.
Villagers added that there have been a few mishaps in the wells, which led to its closure. There were leakages in the wells in Vanakkankadu, which affected crops in the surrounding areas. “In 2017, there were few leakages in a well, affecting farmers nearby. ONGC officials carried out an inspection and closed the wells,” added Dakshinamurthy.
Ramkumar, one of the protestors, said the wells have been closed as the required amount of crude oil was not found in the explorations. “We are hearing that four out of the six wells are going to be cleared. We want all the six to go,” Ramkumar said. When TNIE contacted ONGC officials, they did not confirm or deny the reports. Collector Kavitha Ramu said the district administration had not been informed about it.