In a major development, the Gauhati High Court has directed the Centre, Assam government and Oil India Limited (OIL) to file replies on a PIL against the Union government’s approval to the PSU major for drilling seven wells inside Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, which is adjacent to the Baghjan well mishap site.
The PIL was filed jointly by advocate Mrinmoy Khataniar and mountaineer Amar Jyoti Deka.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ajai Lamba and Justice Manish Choudhury on August 17 directed the respondents to file their affidavits by September 21 and fixed September 30 as the next date.
The bench also considered a PIL by another advocate along with this as both were filed on the same issue.
“By virtue of this petition, legality and validity of the environmental clearance/approval dated 11.05.2020 (Annexure-I) granted by MoEF&CC to M/s Oil India Limited for extension drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (DSNP) area has been challenged,” the order said.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Assam government’s Department of Forest and Environment, State Board of Wildlife and Oil India Ltd (OIL) have been asked to file their replies by the high court.
The bench in its order noted that drilling and testing of hydrocarbons were extended to seven locations under the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park by dispensing public hearing on “extraneous grounds”.
Meanwhile, OIL is yet to douse the fire at the oil well at Baghjan which is near Dibru-Saikhowa National Park which caught massive fire on June 9.