Centre defers GAIL India pipeline project in Tamil Nadu's Nagapattinam

The work for laying underground natural gas transportation pipeline for the Rs 114 crore project commenced a few years ago.

Published: 09th July 2022 06:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th July 2022 06:09 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose. (File photo| Reuters)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: An expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the Union environment ministry has deferred its approval for GAIL India natural gas pipeline project in Nagapattinam due to potential coastal regulation zone (CRZ) rule violations. 

The work for laying underground natural gas transportation pipeline for the Rs 114 crore project commenced a few years ago. As per the proposal, the pipeline passes through Uppanar River approximately for a length of 0.255 km out of its total length of 29.197 km starting from Palayapalayam village in Sirkali taluk to Memathur village in Tharangambadi taluk of the district. 

But before obtaining the CRZ clearance, GAIL India started the pipeline work and it was also not disclosed to the EAC. An application was filed on May 27 on the environment ministry’s parivesh website for clearance.   

The EAC during deliberation noted that GAIL India did not mention it as a case of post-facto clearance and has submitted it as a fresh proposal as per CRZ Notification, 2011, for clearance from the ministry. The matter came to the notice of the EAC during the presentation/discussion at the meeting and a GAIL representative too confirmed the same.

"It is against disclosure (norms) for PPs (project proponents) about information provided during the uploaded proposal on parivesh portal and the ministry may take a view of the same," the EAC said and added that the issue of addressing such procedural lapses and other issues may be decided in accordance with the ministry's Office Memorandum (OM) dated Feb 19, 2021. 

The OM delineates "procedure for dealing with violations arising out of lack of prior CRZ clearance for permissible activities". However, the OM has been stayed by the Bombay High Court and the matter is sub judice.

The ministry is thus restrained from granting permission or clearance on the basis of the OM. "Therefore, the proposal (pipeline project) was deferred considering that the project is a violation/post facto clearance case and related OM is also sub-judice," the EAC said. 

P Maruthu Pandian, senior manager (construction), GAIL India, who filed an application for CRZ clearance, said the pipeline was environment friendly and reduces carbon footprint. "Clean natural gas shall be made available to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers," he said.   

In the application, the official said the project was recommended by the District State Coastal Zone Management Authority in 2019. However, as per the official documents available with The New Indian Express, GAIL did not obtain CRZ clearance from the environment ministry.  

Pipelines conveying systems including transmission lines are permissible activities as per CRZ notification, 2011. However, the ministry’s clearance must be obtained before commencing the work. 


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