TN farmers oppose the project; end-users may have to pay more

Re-routing GAIL’s Kochi-Bangalore-Mangalore Pipeline (KKBMPL) to avoid laying it on farmlands in Tamil Nadu would mean an additional 100 km length, resulting in higher project cost, said a senior official of the company. At present, the project cost has been estimated at Rs 3,263 crore.

The higher project cost will eventually have to be recovered from the end users of the pipeline network -- industries and the general public.

Also, laying pipelines on national highways would call for different pipe specifications, rendering the Rs 1,000-crore worth pipes already bought for the purpose as a total loss.

A senior GAIL official told Business Line that it was the universal practice to lay a gas pipeline based on the optimal route between the source and the destination/demand centres of the gas to be transported.

The route selected avoids populated areas and, hence, has to be through agricultural and barren land.

GAIL (India), which is laying the network, has been facing protests from farmers in Coimbatore, Salem, Erode, Tiruppur, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts of Tamil Nadu. The pipeline is expected to pass through 136 villages in these districts. The farmers fear that the land will lose productivity once the pipeline is laid.

Compensation Package

The compensation, based on the formula worked out by the State Revenue Department, to be paid to the farmers whose lands were being used for laying the network, is almost 6-7 times more than the value of land.

The farmers are also getting compensation for crop loss, and miscellaneous losses, if any, during the period of construction would also be covered.

The pipelines are laid under the provisions of P&MP (Petroleum & Minerals Pipelines) Act 1962, vide which land owners are entitled to full crop compensation (for the entire construction period) and land compensation as per the Act.

The Tamil Nadu Government has already formed a high power committee headed by the Chief Secretary to look into issues related to execution of the pipeline.

The Committee has declared/approved the right of user compensation formula through an order dated June 22, 2012, calculated at 10 per cent of the reserve price of the land, i.e. 10 per cent of [Revised Guideline value plus 30 per cent compensation].

Besides, this is not a permanent land acquisition and the land ownership will remain with the land-owner. After completion of work in a specific stretch, the land will be returned to the land-owner/farmer.

Once the land is returned, agricultural activities can continue and agricultural yield will in no way be affected by the presence of the pipeline, which is 1-2 meters below the ground level, said the GAIL official.

At present, over 30,000 km of underground pipelines have been laid in India and are operational, predominantly in agricultural land.

(This article was published on March 8, 2013)
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