Over two weeks after the Neduvasal protests were called off, the hydrocarbon project has reportedly been given a fresh lease of life by the Centre. According to a report in The New Indian Express, the Petroleum Ministry on Monday, has signed the contracts of 31 fields awarded under the Discovered Small Field (DSF) Bid Round 2016 with 22 companies at New Delhi.
Much to the dismay of protesters, the list included Neduvasal and Karaikal, where local residents had expressed vehement opposition to the project. The Neduvasal project will continue to be under GEM Laboratories, while Bharat Petro Resources will be handling the Karaikal project.
Residents of Neduvasal reportedly began mobilising support from villages nearby as soon as the news reached them. Residents from adjacent villages of Vadakadu, Pattukkottai, Karambakuddi and Aranthangi have decided to form a core committee to oppose the project, reports TNIE.
“We suspended our protest earlier as we were assured by the district administration, State government and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan that the project would not be implemented in Pudukkottai district. But now, with the Petroleum Ministry signing contracts for the hydrocarbon project, we have decided to mobilise representatives of 70 villages around Neduvasal to prevent the oil extraction project,” K Dakshinamoorthy, representative of Neduvasal protesters, told TNIE.
Residents in the area have reportedly claimed that they are banking on the State Government's support in the matter. According to the report, the Collector has given them a written assurance that the administration would not entertain the hydrocarbon project.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy has reportedly claimed that the hydrocarbon project will not be implemented if there is opposition from farmers. The report says that even Agriculture Minister R Kamalakannan said the project would have adverse effects on the soil and environment of Karaikal.
On March 10, the 22-day long Neduvasal protest against the Hydrocarbon exploration project was called off temporarily in Pudukottai district. The decision was taken after Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan, state Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar and collector S Ganesh met the protesters on March 9. The Union Minister had assured the protesters that further permission will not be granted to the project till the people are consulted. The agreements now however have been signed without a discussion with stakeholders.