Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday ordered setting up of an expert committee to study in depth the impact of the coal-bed methane project of Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd on the farm land and ground water table of the Cauvery delta region.

Jayalalithaa said that the committee would submit its report in three months and till the time the government took a decision on the report, Great Eastern Energy would not be allowed to carry on its exploration work.

The committee members will be from Anna University, MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and Indian Institute of Technology-Madras (IIT-M).

The committee will also have officials of public works department, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB), department of agriculture and Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation Ltd.

The Chief Minister said her government would not permit any project that affects the farm lands of the Cauvery delta region. Jayalalithaa said the government has decided to implement a Rs.1,560-crore project to protect the Cauvery delta region as there is a risk of seawater incursion in the underground water table.

She said some of the chemicals used while extracting the gas are poisonous, water soluble and have radiation risks.

Jayalalithaa said the Centre, based on an auction, had allocated 610 sq km of land area to Great Eastern Energy and also signed a production sharing agreement in 2010. The erstwhile DMK government issued the petroleum exploration licence to Great Eastern Energy on Jan 1, 2011 and also signed a MoU with the company on Jan 4, 2011.

(Agencies)

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