|The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) must abandon work on its cooking gas receiving jetty and storage facilities on Puthuvype island near Kochi as the project was unviable in such a thickly populated area, said a group of environmentalists led by former chairman of Kerala State Biodiversity Board V.S. Vijayan at a press conference here on Monday.|
He said the project did not need a sea-face for its operations and it was not necessary that it was established on Puthuvype island. The public sector oil company could look at more viable places such as Ambalamugal if there was space, he said.
There remained a question mark over the need for such a project, said the environmentalists. When the project was drawn up in 2008, only 70% of the 4.5 lakh tonnes of LPG produced at the BPCL refinery in Kochi was being supplied in Kerala. With the expansion of the capacity of the refinery, LPG production will go up to 1.17 crore tonnes.
A statement handed out during the press conference said it was “a meaningless and cruel error” to establish the LPG receiving and storage facilities on Puthuvype island considering factors such as biodiversity in the project area, the number of species facing serious threat to existence, value of environmental surroundings, the rising sea level, growing pressure on an environmentally weak area and disruption to the means of livelihood for the fishing community. Such a conclusion was reached after a study of the project and its impact on the people and the environment by the Salim Ali Foundation. The decision to undertake the study was taken at a meeting at which environmentalist M.K. Prasad presided, said the handout. The report was prepared after interactions with the residents of Puthuvype island.
The project involves importing LPG by sea route and storing it before being distributed via lorries. Around 500 bullet tanker lorries will be engaged daily to distribute the imported cooking gas.
The study results said that there were 204 species of plants, 21 species of fish and 138 species of birds in the project area; a total of 15 hectares of marshy land had been destroyed for the project already; the monetary loss from intangible benefits was nearly ₹19 crore per year; marshy land to an extent of 154 hectares would be destroyed for the LNG terminal and the Multi User Liquid Terminal project; and its value was about ₹175 crore per year.
The project report had furnished wrong information on biodiversity in the area, the environmentalists alleged. They also called for action against the company that prepared the report.
Meanwhile, IOC sources said the company was not in a position to respond to the allegations raised by the environmentalits as the company had not seen the report.