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Kerala stalls GAIL pipeline project

Chennai/ Kochi, Nov 26 (): GAIL(Gas Authority of India Ltd) pipeline linking Kochi LNG terminal to a terminal in Karnataka and passing through Tamil Nadu’s seven districts is totally stuck in three districts of Kerala.

The Madras High Court has given the nod to GAIL for laying the pipeline in seven districts of Tamil Nadu, and directed the State Government to tackle protesters. The work in three districts of Kerala is completely stalled following resistance by the public.

The notification ends on March 31, 2014 for completing the procedure for a pipeline, and if a solution is not found, the project will be further delayed.

Even if the pipelines are laid in Tamil Nadu, with State Government support they have to be connected with the line from Kerala which passes through Palakkad so that the network is fully operational.

GAIL said that 505 kms in the second phase of pipes have to be laid and only 10 percent of the work has been completed. The major hindrance is reported from Kozhikode, Kannur and Malappuram districts.

Though several meetings were held in these districts with the MLAs, government officials and those whose lands are affected by the laying of the pipes, Kerala State has decided not to give permission.

Taking into consideration the public sentiments, the people’s representatives are not in favour and do not want to go ahead with the project and GAIL decided to wait for the state government to take a final decision on the issue.

GAIL sources said that they will abandon the project if the people continue to resist the move to lay the pipes, which it says will be a great blow to the state economy as well as to the Green Revolution.

The district collectors have been asked to convene meeting with the public, and whose land will be used for laying the pipes, to create awareness on the benefits and the need to go ahead with the project.

There is still fear that the land through which the pipes are laid cannot be used in future. GAIL wanted only permission for the Right to Use of the land. After laying the pipes, the land could be used for any other purposes by the owners. The owners will be paid compensation, it said.

The proposed pipeline from Kochi passes through three districts in Kerala to reach Mangalore. The work is badly stalled on this stretch. The line in Tamil Nadu will pass from Kuttanad and go through Palakkad to reach Coimbatore. Kerala state will get full results only after laying the pipes as per the proposed plan.

At the LNG Terminal, only eight per cent of the total capacity is consumed as the pipelines are yet to be laid in other parts of the state.

Five million metric tons is the total capacity of LNG Terminal. GAIL sources said if the Kerala pipeline work is completed, the total capacity of the terminal could be consumed within a year.

The Madras High Court yesterday gave the green signal for implementation of GAIL‘s pipeline project which is to be laid through seven districts in the State.

GAIL filed a petition challenging a Tamil Nadu State government’s letter of April 2013; the First Bench said there was a public interest in favour of the project. Since the project would be connected to the natural gas grid, it would benefit the Tamil Nadu State to a very large extent, the court said.

Thousands of farmers in Tamil Nadu took to the streets and the State asked GAIL to stop the work and lay the pipes along the highway, which the company said was not possible. Farmers say that once pipelines are laid underground then the land would lose fertility and risk of gas leak is possible.