The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is exploring the possibilities of extracting shale gas from the Krishna Godavari Delta.This region is considered as the rice bowl of South India, is facing major ecological challenges, which may threaten its very survival.
It has chosen five sites in the region for setting up exploratory wells. While three of them are in West and East Godavari districts, the rest lie in Krishna District. This comes at a time when the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has come up with a policy brief about Shale Gas, in a bid to meet the supply demand gap of energy and thereby avert an impending crisis.7 acres of land is taken for lease by ONGC in 2015 paying 53000 per acre per year. The construction started in April 2015 while the public hearing was held in November 2016 and it is yet to get clearance from MoEF. This discrepancy has been challenged in the court. The villagers say that, this is three time crop and they are fearing the pollution of their ecology as well as their lands and water, as fracking involves sending lakhs of liters of water into the underground to break the rocks, which releases the trapped gas in them. Shale Gas extraction involves sending huge amount of water coupled with chemicals and sand to depths of up to 4000 meters under high pressure. This process is called Hydro Fracking or Fracking. The high pressure creates fissures in the rocks and releases the trapped shale gas from the rock formations. For Krishna Godavari Basin, which already has a recorded evidence of land subsidence due to the existing 65 hydrocarbon fields in the region, the exploration of shale gas is only making the environmental disaster even more acute. Around 80 per cent of the mixture remains underground and the remaining 20 per cent rises to the surface which is not disposed off safely, says retired professor and geologist Krishna Rao, who was part of field surveys and studies recording the land subsidence in the region. Environmentalists, including Rao, claim that many different chemical products, some of which are toxic, are injected, along with several million gallons of fresh water, into each of the wells. Fracking was first tried in the United States in the 1940s. From being an importer of Liquid Natural Gas, United States is now selfsufficient and is even planning to export. However, this has come with a significant environmental cost. Experience from US has taught that the leakage of the toxic chemicals has contaminated aquifers, which are the sources of drinking water. Fracking has been banned by many countries in Europe and also by many states in the United States, owing to proven scientific studies and records of pollution of air, water and other community resources in the vicinity.