By- Kiron Kakoty
On 2 January Indian Petroleum and natural gas minister M Veerappa Moily has identified Assam-Arakan basin as one of the areas for shale gas extraction.
Shale Gas is the combustible gas trapped in the rock deep inside the earth’s crust. It can be extracted by pumping in special chemical fluid under pressure to break up (fracking) the rock layer to release the trapped gas to be recovered and then pumped out.
Assam has already borne the brunt of careless drilling for oil and natural gas under her soil. The result of land movements underneath has been reported to have cause cracks to our precious heritage of the Ahom kingdom’s surviving buildings.
Reckless discharge of the chemical used in the drilling process, and continuous burning of gas flares have caused untold environmental damage and our present generation is already paying a heavy price for such follies and the future generation will have to pay a heavier price.
Shale fracking is known to cause earthquake. Despite England not having earth’s fault line, an experimental fracking at Blackpool have caused two minor tremors.
It is well known that there will be a major earthquake affecting Assam at any time. It is no secret that Assam sits on a very vulnerable tectonic fault line. It is fortunate that since 1950 we have escaped major quakes. There has been suggestion that the next earthquake will be stronger that the 1897 quake, perhaps nearing 10 on the Richter scale.
While appreciating that the inevitable earthquake cannot be prevented, only a fool will hasten it! Shale extraction in Assam will be like cutting the branch of a tree you are sitting on. The tremor from the fracking in Assam will be likened to a snow capped mountain covered with masses of soft newly laid snow and a gun shot or even a clap near it triggering a huge avalanche !
For the peanut royalty should we dig our own graves?
Assam flattened by a future earthquake would come handy to the explorers of hydrocarbons under. They can carry on breaking up the hydrocarbon rich Assam geology to their hearts’ content and gas up India to riches to beat the world on to the first place, fulfilling India’s dream !