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Vaiko opposes methane project in Tamil Nadu

Chennai, April 26 (IANS) Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd.'s (GEEC) coal-bed methane exploration project in Tamil Nadu's Mannargudi hit a political roadblock Friday with MDMK's general secretary Vaiko voicing fears it would turn the area into a desert.

"It is shocking to hear 667 square km of land has been allocated for methane extraction. Methane extraction is not a simple process and it would damage the farm land, environment, and the ground water will go far deeper," said Vaiko in a statement issued here.

"Once the water is sucked out, the danger of water level in the Cauvery river basin going below 500 ft exists. When the ground water level goes below 500 ft, there is the danger of that area becoming desert," claimed Vaiko, adding there will be incursion of sea water, turning the ground water saline.

According to GEEC, the coal-bed methane contract for the Mannargudi block in Tiruvarur district was signed with the central government July 29, 2010. The company has also signed the petroleum exploration license with the Tamil Nadu government.

According to plans, the company will drill 30 pilot production wells and 50 core holes.

Vaiko said the company would drill 12 core holes in Thanjavur district and 38 in Thiruvarur district, both around 320 km from here.

He said coal is available at the depth of 500 feet to 1,650 ft below ground level and the water above the coal has to be removed for methane to be extracted.

Vaiko urged the central and the state governments to drop their plans of extracting lignite and methane in the Cauvery delta.

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