Over 20 acres of farmland in Thiruvarur and Kattur districts of Tamil Nadu have been severely damaged due to oil leaks from an abandoned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC) pipeline.
The oil mixed with water from the Pandavai river, flowing through the district, is polluting it and further affecting 110 hectares of neighbouring Samba farmlands that use the river water for irrigation, according to a report by Puthiyathalamurai.
“After the ONGC leaks, the oil has mixed with the water and we have not been able to bathe, wash our cattle or even set foot into the river. Because of ONGC, our clean drinking water has become dirty wastewater and it has affected us badly. Even if we complain, there is no response from the offenders. This has been happening for the last eight months. It is a big problem for us,” a farmer from Thiruvarur told TNM.
When asked about the leaks, the District collector clarified the issue saying,” It is not actually a leak. An old pipeline was replaced four months back and it was not removed from the spot. We will get it removed.”
However, the damage is done and those paying the price are the farmers in the area. The protest against ONGC’s mining in the area goes back to last year, when one out of the seven wells sunk in the region resulting in an oil burst on June 30, 2017. The spilled oil affected several farmlands in the Kadiramangalam and Neduvasal villages.
Following the spill, soil and groundwater samples taken from the region even proved that the ONGC and CPCL operations in the delta were harming the land.
Post the recent leaks in Thiruvarur, several ONGC officials have come to the site but nobody has bothered to observe the farmlands and the plight of the farmers or take any remedial action, the report stated.