Efforts being made to solve oil blocks issue amicably: Antony
New Delhi: Against the backdrop of a logjam over military clearances for 39 oil exploration blocks, Defence Minister A K Antony on Friday said there were "serious security concerns" over them but efforts were being made to solve the issue amicably.
He said there were concerns about the security of "major very sensitive areas" and security installations in these areas but the ministries of Defence and Petroleum are trying to find an amicable solution for the issue.
"Out of the 73 blocks they have proposed for exploration, we have given approval for 40 blocks. Regarding the 32 plus seven, we have some serious security concerns. We are discussing how to safeguard security concerns and after that, how to proceed on oil exploration in these blocks.
"For that Petroleum and Defence ministries are in constant touch and we will try to find an amicable solution," Antony said.
He was asked to comment on the contention that Defence Ministry objections were hindering the oil block exploration process in the country.
According to reports, in 32 blocks, the Defence Ministry has laid a stringent condition that the pipeline should be one kilometre below the sea bed and seven areas have been declared as totally no-go areas for the exploration purpose.
Asserting that the Defence Ministry was not taking any "negative step" on this issue, Antony said the government was worried over the high import bill due to oil and is looking for ways to increase its internal production.
"At the same time, we are very much concerned about the security of the country and also security of defence installations and major very sensitive strategic projects. We have to safeguard both," he said.
Recently, the CCI headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asked the two ministries to sort out differences on allowing exploration and production particularly in Krishna Godavari basin.