No methane study on Cauvery Delta: J Jayalalithaa

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Chennai: Responding to Cauvery delta farmers’ plea, chief minister J. Jayalalithaa on Wednesday put on hold the coal-bed metha­ne (CBM) project proposed by Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd (GEECL) for extracting methane in delta districts.
She  ordered constitution of a committee comprising government officials and experts to conduct a study on the pros and cons of the project. She added consent would be given only if the state government was convinced that the project  would not affect groundwater table and agricultural work.
“Action was necessitated after it was brought to my notice that GEECL has been conducting rese­arch to extract methane in the region. It has ca­u­sed app­re­hensions am­o­ng cultivators who feel it can lead to depletion of gro­u­nd­water and affect agriculture,”  Jayalalithaa said in a st­a­tement.  
Farmers’ interest first: Jayalalithaa
Chennai: Chief minister Jayala­lithaa asserted that the government would not give consent if it felt the project was causing even a minor damage to the rice bowl of the state and to its farmers.
“Hence, I have ordered setting up of a committee which will have representatives from Anna University, IIT-Madras, TN Agricultural Unive­rsity, M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, besides officials from PWD, TNPCB and TI­DCO.
Though the Union environment ministry has given its clearance, it is the TNPCB that has to give clearance for drilling deep wells. It has not given  clearance to the applications by GEEC,” the CM said.
She referred to a few reports of GEECL on the project that said some of the chemicals used to extract coal bed methane were toxic, soluble in water and have radiation.
Detailing the initiatives taken at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore World Bank aid to save the region from seawater intrusion, she noted that there were chances of seawater entering farm lands due to climate change in addition to the recent doubts raised by farmers during public hearing meetings.
“Hence the coal bed methane project in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur can be allowed only after we are convinced that the project will not affect the farmers,” she said.

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