TN govt forms 7-member panel for study of hydrocarbon projects

The Tamil Nadu government has constituted a seven-member committee to study the exploration of hydrocarbon projects which will be headed by Sultan Ahmed Ismail, part-time member, State Development Policy Council.

A statement from the environment department said the committee constituted on Tuesday will have freedom to conduct the study in areas other than the protected agricultural zone as the terms of reference have been revised.

The study will be conducted in areas other than the Cauvery delta region and will assess the impact of drilling technologies like hydrofracturing on groundwater and environment.

The committee will also study whether drilling would have an impact on the land as well as whether it destabilises the tectonic plates below the area of exploration. The impact of the project on the livelihood of the people of the area will also be a subject of study.

The study will access the quantity of groundwater required to be drawn out for the exploration of coal bed methane, petroleum, and natural gas, shale gas and whether large-scale drawing of groundwater would lead to its depletion.

An assessment on the impact of chemicals upon the quantity of surface water, groundwater, flowing water, fertility of the land, irrigation sources, cultivation of crops, flora and fauna, air quality, and sea water intrusion will be conducted by the seven-member committee.

The other members of the committee include Indumathi M. Nambi, Professor, IIT Madras; M. Maheswari, Professor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University; V. Selvam, former senior Director, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF); S. Ramamoorthy, Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department; S. Raja, Executive Engineer, Groundwater Resources, Tamil Nadu Public Works Department and R. Karthikeyan, General Manager, Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO).

The committee has been directed to submit its report within four months.