Fire at Baghjan oil well

Oil India Limited (OIL) has been asked to close down the operations at Baghjan area in Tinsukia district by Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) following an explosion which later caught fire at an oil well.

The closure notice was addressed to the resident chief executive of OIL, issued on June 19.

The oil well at Baghjan developed a burst on May 27 and continued to leak condensate and oil putting the area in danger. Later, the oil well caught fire on June 9.

“…Pollution Control Board is constrained to inform you that you have nonchalantly violated the provisions of law in force causing pollution in the environment and in exercising powers conferred upon it under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, Section 33A of Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1947 and Section 31A of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, as amended till date, you are directed to close down all the productions as well as drilling operations of your all installations of Baghjan Oil Field,” the notice read.

It further asked OIL to take necessary measures to extinguish the fire/blowout of the well no BGN 5.

PCBA chairman Y Suryanarayana said that they had issued a show cause notice to OIL on June 10 with seven days’ time to submit their reply. But the OIL sought more time.

“…hence, we have issued a closure notice directing OIL to close all production and drilling operations at Baghjan oilfield immediately,” Suryanarayana said.

The notice mentioned that the Baghjan oilfield was being operated without the “consent to establish and consent to operate” permission from PCBA.

Maguri-Motapung wetland, a spot known for avian and aquatic species is located towards the south of the site which is not even a kilometer away. Dibru Saikhowa National Park, another biodiversity hotspot is also located nearby which is around 2 kilometre away in the north.

The PCBA said that the wildlife has been severely affected due to the negligence of Oil India Limited.

The PCBA also held the OIL responsible for not equipping themselves with proper safety and precautionary measures.

Meanwhile, at the site, the fire continues to burn as OIL prepares to control the fire. OIL officials said that they are targeting to complete all the preparatory measures before July 7. Army has also been engaged in the work.

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