Environmental activists are raising concerns over the Vedanta Group’s upstream arm Cairn Oil & Gas proposed project, ‘Onshore Oil and Gas Development and Production’ at the Kaza block in the Krishna-Godavari basin in Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna District.
Ahead of a public hearing on the project at Tarakturu village in Guduru mandal on December 17 by the state pollution control board, several academics and civil society organisations are holding awareness campaigns among the affected villages.
According to the Vedanta’s proposal, the company plans to drill 35 hydrocarbon wells and 10 hydrocarbon processing facilities to produce 30,000 barrels of oil per day (BOPD) and 30 million metric standard cubic feet (MMSCFT) of natural gas at the Kaza block at a cost of around Rs 650 crore.
The block was bagged by Cairn Oil & Gas in early 2019 during the round 2 bidding of Discovered Small Fields (DSF) by the central government. The Vedanta’s subsidiary has been awarded more than 51 oil blocks spread across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Gujarat in various government auctions in the last four years.
“Total 35 hydrocarbon wells will be drilled. This area will be limited to the well pad location. Each well pad will be of 9 hectare size each. The land to be used shall be leased out from the landowner. Thereafter based on the commercial success of the drilling, the land may be permanently acquired. In case there is no viability of hydrocarbon abstraction, well will be properly abandoned and the land will be handed over back to the owner after necessary restoration of the site,” states Vedanta group in its Environment Impact Assessment report submitted to the environmental ministry.
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Retired senior scientist from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and a member of Human Rights Forum Dr K Babu Rao argued that the EIA submitted by the company is misleading.
“Land Subsidence, fracking activity, release of gases such as methane from the wells and heavy noise are among the major concerns of the proposed project. It is to be noted that fracking is a dangerous activity and may turn the region into an earthquake-prone area. There was a haste from the government’s side while allocating the blocks which are located on agriculture fields which yield two sets of crops every year,” said Rao. He also alleged that the company did not mention the impact caused by land subsidence and fracking in its EIA report.
Members of civil liberties group, Human Rights Forum, are conducting awareness campaigning in the affected villages including Movva, Guduru and Machilipatnam mandals of Krishna district explaining the people about the alleged environmental concerns if the project gets materialised.
“It is surprising that many villagers are not even aware of the upcoming project,” said an HRF member.
“On one side, climate change is becoming a major problem but on the other, the government is encouraging production of hydrocarbons when it is actually time to reduce it,” said Babu Rao.