Forty five days after the uproar in Kathiramangalam began over an ONGC pipeline leak, the oil major has failed the people of Tamil Nadu yet again. On Sunday morning, at around 4am, there was a leak in yet another pipeline, this time at Mathirimangalam in Nagapattinam district.
According to villagers, this is the fourth time that pipeline, which is below an irrigation canal, has leaked. There are apparently houses surrounding this site of leakage and ONGC officials did not arrive to fix the pipeline for at least six hours.
"We have complained to the Collector and the Superintendent of Police multiple times but to no avail," says Vimal, who has been a resident of the village for the last 34 years. "Every time they come and do some patchwork on the 20-year-old pipe, and it starts leaking again. Once the whole thing even caught fire," he adds. Villagers claim the pipeline connects to an ONGC gas collection station.
"This is not a garden for the ONGC to fix things by closing a valve. The root cause has to be addressed," says Nityanand Jayaraman, an environmentalist. "If it connects to a gas station, then that would mean that produced water can leak out of these pipes," he explains.
In a Facebook post, the environmentalist had earlier written, "Produced water is highly saline and corrosive. It will contain hydrocarbons like the toxic benzene, xylene, toluene and polycyclic aromatics, sulphurous gases such as hydrogen sulphide. To the farmer who tills that land, the soil is dead and will yield nothing."