Thanjavur villagers' protest: ONGC claims groups with 'vested interest' behind opposition

Chennai: ONGC on Wednesday dubbed the ongoing protests by people in Thanjavur district against its oil exploration project as being carried out by 'vested interest groups' and urged them not to be misled by rumours.

 Thanjavur villagers protest: ONGC claims groups with vested interest behind opposition

Representational image. Reuters

Villagers in Kathiramangalam in Thanjavur district have been staging protests since 30 June against the project.

Their protest that day against a 'leak' in a pipeline had turned violent after locals and activists clashed with police officials, prompting them to baton charge the protesters leaving several persons, including two policemen, injured.

Chief Minister K Palaniswamy had recently announced in the Assembly that the situation in the village was "calm" and adequate security has been deployed.

Giving details of the incidents that day, ONGC said it had observed the leakage in the pipeline near Vanathurgai temple.

Closing the well by officials would have taken only 15 to 30 minutes, a company statement said, adding 'vested interest' groups led the protest and public gathered at the site and obstructed ONGC crew entering the area.

"With the help of police and local government authorities, the damaged section of pipeline was replaced on 3 July, 2017," it said, adding a probe was on to ascertain the cause of the leak.

Noting that the company was committed to restoring land affected due to the leakage, ONGC said the topsoil would be replaced with fresh soil and adequate compensation paid.

The oil major said it follows global practices and had not taken up any coal bed methane nor shale gas operations in Tamil Nadu, as alleged.

"ONGC's operations in Tamil Nadu are limited to Exploration and Production of conventional oil and gas resources. ONGC is neither carrying out nor having any plans for exploration of resources like CBM (Coal Bed Methane), Shale gas or Shale oil in the Cauvery basin", it said.

The company's decision was also conveyed to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and the National Green Tribunal, Chennai, it said.

"Certain vested interest groups are continuously spreading false propaganda to mislead the public", the company alleged.

On reports of depletion of groundwater due to ONGC taking up drilling operations in the state, the statement said "water consumption by ONGC is negligible and insignificant and will not affect ground water levels".

ONGC also rubbished reports of its activities affecting agricultural land, saying it has been operating in Tamil Nadu for more than five decades, not only in the Cauvery Delta region but also in other states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam.

"Nowhere have ONGC's activities caused adverse effects on agriculture. If there were any temporary unavoidable damages to crops, ONGC promptly undertakes remedial actions", it said.

"False propaganda by vested interest groups that oil and gas operation activities will devastate the entire Cauvery Delta region is ridiculous and baseless", it said.

On its operations in Tamil Nadu, ONGC said it contributed Rs 2,288 crore as royalty and VAT to the exchequer.

The central PSU said it has established 33 oil and gas fields which produce 900 metric tonnes of oil per day and about 33.5 lakh cubic metres natural gas per day as on date.

"We sincerely appeal to the people in delta districts and people of Tamil Nadu in general not to be misled by rumours and misinformation", it added.

Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 22:22:53 IST

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