Govt to Issue Notice to ONGC on Oil Leak

Worried over the impact on marine lives and agriculture due to recent incidents of crude oil leak in two villages of Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu, the Environment Ministry has decided to issue notice to ONGC asking it to decommission an abandoned pipeline responsible for oil leak.

The decision came after Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan today visited the affected villages where the crude oil leak has affected many acres of cultivable land.

"Notice will be issued to ONGC asking it to decommission all the abandoned pipelines. Our demand is that international protocol should be followed to decommission the pipelines to ensure such incidents are not repeated," a source familiar to the developement told PTI.

The Ministry also dismissed the ONGC claims that only 10 acres of land have been affected due to the crude oil leak from the abandoned pipeline belonging to the public sector undertaking.

Sources said Natarajan has taken up the matter with Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily and asked him to arrange for adequate compensation to the affected farmers.

"Many acres of cultivable land in two villages of Nagapattinam district have been affected by crude oil leak," the source said.

When contacted, ONGC Chairman and Managing Director Sudhir Vasudeva told PTI, "The leakage had taken place sometime back. The pipeline had been devoid of hydrocarbon thereafter and had been plugged and it is not in use now."

"The oil that had been leaked from the pipeline sometime back must have got stuck in the soil and due to rain it has come out to surface now. There is no threat of new leakage as the pipeline is not being used since the last leakage sometime back," he said. 

Vasudeva also said the company has paid compensation to the farmers for the leakage.

Earlier, Nartarajan told reporters in Nagapattinam that "the farmers won't be able to cultivate the land for the next three years as the oil had seeped into the fields to a great extent."

After visiting the Keezhavelur and Karunavali villages, Natarajan held discussions with farmers regarding the extent of damage and assured them that assistance would be provided in getting suitable compensation.

The leaked pipeline had been laid to take crude oil to the Narimanam refineries. The pipeline was abandoned as it developed cracks, officials said.

She said in other parts of the world, oil companies were making use of the computerised technology to check for leaks in oil pipelines. "We will recommend adoption of such measures in India also in the interest of protecting the environment," she said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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