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Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will carry out the first Geothermal Field Development Project in India which will be implemented in Ladakh.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the ONGC Energy Centre (OEC) with Ladakh and the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Leh on 6 February.

"This MoU, which was signed in the presence of Ladakh Lieutenant Governor, is the first step towards creating a Carbon Neutral Ladakh, a clarion call given by Prime Minister of India on Independence Day 2020," ONGC said in a statement.

Geothermal resource development is said to revolutionize farming in Ladakh. The Union Territory (UT) is dependant for supply of fresh vegetables, fruits from outside the region throughout the year. "This project of ONGC will put India on Geothermal Power map of the world," ONGC said in a statement adding that the heat application will make it most relevant to Ladakh.

This project has been planned by ONGC and will be implemented in three phases. Phase-1 involves exploratory-cum-production drilling of wells up to 500 metres depth and setting up of a Pilot Plant of up to 1 MW power capacity. Phase-II would involve deeper and lateral exploration of geothermal reservoir by drilling of optimal number of wells and setting up of a higher capacity Demo Plant and preparing a Detailed Project Report. Phase-III would involve commercial development of the geothermal plant, the energy company said.

In Eastern Ladakh, Puga and Chumathang are said to be the most promising geothermal fields in India, ONGC said. These areas were discovered in 1970s and initial exploratory efforts were made in 1980s by Geological Survey of India (GSI), it added.

Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy stored beneath the surface of the Earth in the form of heat. This energy is clean, sustainable, carbon free, continuous, uninterrupted and environment-friendly, the statement read.

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