Vedanta Limited’s oil and gas exploration division, Cairn Oil and Gas, proposed to drill 35 hydrocarbon wells at Kaza block in the Krishna-Godavari basin. The company expected production of 30,000 barrels of oil per day and 30 million metric cubic feet of gas from the wells. Cairn Oil and Gas has been awarded more than 51 oil blocks spread across seven states in the country, including Andhra Pradesh, in various government auctions in the last four years. The onshore block in Krishna district was awarded to Cairn in 2019 during the bidding of Discovered Small Fields (DSF) by the central government.
The environmental public hearing was scheduled to be conducted on Thursday at Tarakaturu in Guduru mandal in Krishna district as per the notification issued by the AP Pollution Control Board. However, the hearing was cancelled citing a ‘law and order problem’. The AP Pollution Control Board authorities said that they had been told by the revenue authorities to cancel the public hearing. No further date has been decided.
According to the Ministry of Environment, the exploration is expected to take 10 years starting 2021 in the block that spreads over 115 square kilometers. This would affect 35 villages across four mandals of Movva, Guduru, Kalidindi and Machilipatnam that will be affected by the project. There are concerns that Vedanta neglected to mention the impact of fracking in the environmental impact assessment report. Several environmental activists around the world have been against fracking because of its effects on the environment. The project is suspected to turn the region into an earthquake prone area. Retired senior scientist Dr K Babu Rao of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) and a member of Human Rights Forum stated that the impact report was misleading. He also added that the allotted blocks were located on agriculture fields which yield two sets of crops every year, and that the government was hasty in their decision making.
Human rights groups have explained to locals in the region about how dangerous the onshore extraction process is to the environment and their health. To educate the public, activists distributed pamphlets explaining the effect on the soil and agriculture.