TN govt to set up panel to look into pros, cons of Hydrocarbon projects

Chennai: Tamilnadu Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam yesterday said that the government might set up a committee of experts to look into the pros and cons of proposed Hydrocarbon projects in the State.

DMK president M K Stalin raised the issue in the Assembly yesterday. The AIADMK minister responding to the opposition leader’s question, said former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had set up a committee to look into such projects during her tenure and had later rejected them based on the panel’s recommendations. Likewise, the ruling government will follow a similar method, and the CM would be consulted regarding the matter.

Stalin pointed out that Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in Lok Sabha had stated that MoU has been signed for two hydrocarbon projects and approval for Methane initiatives has not been given. The DMK leader further recalled that Shanmugam had recently assured that the Palaniswamy-led government has not given permission for such projects in the State and hence a policy decision must be taken against such initiatives.

Citing legal provisions, the Law minister said the Centre, as per the new Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy, was auctioning blocks and entered into MoU with successful entities. But exploration or production of hydrocarbon in the State, it is compulsory to get the approval of the government.

Clarifying on the applications received from firms who had entered into an MoU with the Centre, the minister said TN government is yet communicate its decision. He further asserted that no project can come up without the government’s permission and that it had legal authority to initiate criminal action if projects were taken up.

Speaking about the protests by farmers, the minister said the government cannot own up responsibility for agitations being held for political reasons. Stalin however insisted that government take a policy decision on the matter so that farmers could heave a sigh of relief. Shanmugam wondered the need for a policy decision against hydrocarbon projects when the law clearly empowered the government to act against such initiatives.

NT Bureau