Union Minister Of State Pon Radhakrishnan promised that the Centre will not move ahead with the controversial Hydrocarbon project in Tamil Nadu if the state government writes to the union government.
The MoS for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping made the statement on Monday while speaking at Nagercoil at one of the MODI (Making of Developing India) fests that are being held across the country to celebrate three years of the Narendra Modi government.
The minister also added that he along with MoS of Industry and Commerce Nirmala Sitharaman had spoken with the protesters in Neduvasal (Pudukkottai district) and explained the details of the project to them.
Sensing the unpopularity of the project, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami in March had said the state government had not granted permission for it.
In February, Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy said the Union Territory would oppose the project, stating that the Centre had sanctioned the project without obtaining permission from the territorial administration.
The Centreās nod to the hydrocarbon extraction project in 2015 (across India) and subsequent bidding process in May 2016 was met with massive protests by farmers, environmentalists, and activists alike. The demonstrations against the project had peaked in March with the epicentre being in Neduvasal.
However, ONGC was adamant with the project but skipped the public consultation process for drilling 21 exploratory wells across Ariyalur, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam and Tiruvarur districts.
Activists had alleged that the company was trying to circumvent public hearing fearing that residents would disagree to the project.
Environmentalists also alleged the project could seriously impact the groundwater in the region.