Also in trouble is GAIL pipeline for Kochi R-LNG

Vol 15, PW 23 (31 May 12) Midstream & Downstream

In Kerala too farmers are taking out their frustration on state-owned GAIL, which is struggling to lay a 948-km R-LNG evacuation pipeline for the under-construction Kochi LNG terminal.

GAIL has so far managed to lay barely 20-km of the pipeline since work began in March on eight separate sections awarded to different contractors. “Farmers are holding up work as they worry a gas leak could lead to a repeat of the Bhopal gas tragedy,” says GAIL.

“There’s no comparison between R-LNG and (poisonous) ‘methyl isocyanate’ which leaked in Bhopal but they won’t believe us.” GAIL, he adds, has received pipe supplies at storage points along the proposed route of the 24-inch diameter pipeline running from Kochi to Mangalore and Bangalore in neighbouring Karnataka.

Yet it faces opposition from well-organised groups of angry but ignorant farmers in Kasargode, Palakkad, Thrissur and other areas of north Kerala. “Farmers say they will believe safety assurances only from the state government,” adds GAIL.

In desperation GAIL officials have turned to Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy for help, and scheduled a meeting with him on May 25. GAIL also plans to launch a public awareness campaign this week through newspaper and TV advertisements dispelling myths about the R-LNG pipeline and highlighting the project’s importance to Kerala’s economic growth.

Another hurdle is that farmers demand heavy compensation for Right of User (RoU) permission across their land. “They’re demanding 400% more than the government-set rates,” we hear.

GAIL is hoping the chief minister’s intervention can help it resume laying the pipeline in September when the monsoon season ends.

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