Hope for Ningru PML if Oil India avoids forest

Vol 20, PW 20 (29 Jun 17) Exploration & Production

​Six years after the environment ministry first approved Oil India's plan to drill 10 development and eight exploration wells at the Ningru PML in Arunachal Pradesh, there's finally hope it might actually happen.

On May 16, the environment ministry's Forest Advisory Committee granted fresh clearance to renew the Ningru licence with just one condition. "Any area of the Ningru PML which falls in an eco-sensitive zone, buffer zone or the Namdapha national park (known for its tiger population) must be excluded from the PML," Ishwar Singh, chief conservator of forests in Arunachal Pradesh, tells this report.

An Oil India source confirms it is willing to comply and give up anything from 5-sq km to 20-sq-km of the 540-sq km Ningru PML to ensure the licence renewal process is accelerated. "We're liaising with the Arunachal state government and getting a lot of help," says Oil India.

Once the land is relinquished, the oil ministry will write to the state government asking it to issue the PML. Before drilling, Oil India will once again need permission to use forest land for non-forest purposes.

Arunachal conservator of forests Singh admits that any clearance process involving both the forest division and the national park authorities is likely to take a little time. "But it certainly won't take as long as another year," he adds.

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