The ongoing protests at Puthuvypeen in Kochi
might cast a shadow on projects worth Rs 2,200 crore by state-run Indian Oil Corporation
(IOC) to set up a liquefied petroleum gas import terminal, a multi-user liquid terminal, Kochi-Salem LPG pipeline
and a bulk terminal at Palakkad.
Despite the National Green Tribunal (NGT) approval to go ahead with the works in August 2016, locals started obstructing the work since February 16 this year. According to the company, it is also suffering a loss of Rs 1 crore per day as the works for LPG import terminal
is stopped since February. The protests turned violent last week after police resorted to lathi-charge, in which at least 10 people and more than 200 people were arrested.
“Our demand is to wait until the national green tribunal (NGT) order comes on July 4. The region is one of the most densely populated area in Asia. Even when the work started, it has created health problems to the locals. Moreover, there is a clear violation of sea limits in this Tsunami-prone area, as far as construction is concerned,” said Shaji George, a leader of Kerala Regional Latin Catholic Association, which is also part of the protests.
According to IOC, the NGT, in its interim order of April 13, 2017, had reconfirmed its August 2016 order permitting IndianOil to continue with the work. Following this, the High Court too had permitted IOC last year to carry out the work. The company claims that out of the Rs. 2,200 crore investments to the comprehensive projects, about Rs 670 crore to labour cost.
The LPG Import Terminal
at Puthuvypeen is likely to help reduce the backlog for LPG cylinder supply in Kerala, which is currently at about 15 days. “It would also minimise the movement of bulk LPG tankers through the highways of the State. IndianOil is currently moving bulk LPG from Mangalore to various LPG bottling plants in North Kerala through about 100 bullet trucks every day, which ply on narrow highways,” IOC said in a statement today.
A pipeline connecting the proposed LPG Import Terminal
Refineries Ltd. and the LPG bottling plants at Udayamperoor, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Erode and Salem would help in reducing congestion on the state highways. IOC added that it has all the necessary approvals in place but is designed to conform to global standards of safety.
“The terminal will store LPG in mounded vessels, which are considered the safest in the industry worldwide. These vessels are made of 45-mm thick boiler quality steel plates and will be buried deep in the sand, surrounded by a 1.25-metre thick reinforced concrete wall. The terminal is being equipped with automatic fire-protection systems as per the norms of the Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD),” the statement added. It added that the coastal stretch of the project is only 690 metres and hence will not disturb any of the fishing activities.