The environment and forest ministry (MoEF) has granted Vedanta Ltd’s Cairn Oil & Gas the Terms of Reference (ToR) to conduct Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) for drilling 274 offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration wells in the Bay of Bengal, Puducherry, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Villupuram and Karaikal.
The company received a sanction letter alongside the ToR to begin the EIA on the weekend, the Hindu reports. The mining company has proposed to drill 116 exploratory and appraisal wells in the project block 1 and other 158 wells in the project block 2.
The wells would be drilled at a depth of 3,500 and 4,500 meters each. The project site is just under half a kilometre from the Pichavaram mangrove forest, and various dense populated areas of Poompuhar, Karaikal, Nagapattinam and Velankanni are located alongside many rivers around the project block.
The ToR kickstarts the first of a series of steps to be completed and certified for a project to be set up. The EIA studies environmental impacts of a project, explain consequences and mitigation measures that need to be undertaken.
While the approval to carry out EIA does not guarantee a project granted a nod, but, generally, it is granted clearance, unless the reasons cannot be justified.
“Under the provisions of the EIA Notification 2006, as amended, the Standard ToR for the purposes of preparing the environmental impact assessment report and the environment management plan for obtaining prior environmental clearance is prescribed with public consultation,” the MoEF said in a letter to Vedanta.