Groundwater pollution caused by an Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) rig is the main reason behind the mass mortality of coconut trees in the Konaseema region of East Godavari district, a ten-member expert team said on Wednesday.
Over the past eight months, nearly a thousand coconut trees have perished in 16 acres of orchids at the Billakurru area in Konaseema region. The area is adjacent to the ONGC’s operational area, in which it had conducted a seismic survey and installed a rig, according to an official release issued by the Horticulture Department (East Godavari) on Wednesday.
The expert team was led by Deputy Director (Horticulture-East Godavari) .S. Ram Mohan. The other experts are ONGC Environmental Engineer G.K. Santosh, G. Karuna Reka (AP Pollution Control Board), Groundwater Department Assistant Director P. Radha Krishna, AD Horticulture N. Mallikarjuna Rao and scientists from the Horticulture Research Station (HRS-Ambajipeta). The experts collected samples from the dead trees and soil in the region for further investigation.
In an interaction with the farmers by experts, Kothapeta MLA Chirla Jaggireddy appealed to the experts to complete their scientific investigation early.
“A request will be made to the State government to ensure that the expenditure is borne by the ONGC for the scientific investigation. The family members of the two coconut farmers who ended their lives in distress will be offered compensation,” said Mr. Jaggireddy, who accompanied the experts during the field visit.
HRS-Ambajipeta Principal Scientist Dr. B.V.K. Bhagavan and scientists N.B.K. Chalapathi Rao and V. Govardhan are also members of the expert team.
Source : https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/ongc-to-blame-for-mass-mortality-of-coconut-trees-says-expert-panel/article37202889.ece274