‘Killing operation soon’: Baghjan continues to burn for the 5th month

The oil well blowout at Baghjan in Assam’s Tinsukia district is likely to be killed in the next several days. The oil well caught fire on June 9 and continued to burn ever since and the Oil India Limited (OIL) despite of their efforts failed to bring it under control.

An OIL statement said that a special unit with modern equipments has arrived at the site on October 4 from Calgary, Canada.   

“With all equipment and accessories related to snubbing operation in place at site, arrangement for placing snubbing unit is in progress. It is expected that after completion of all necessary pre-operation activities, the well killing operation by the snubbing unit will commence within next couple of days,” it said.

The flow of gas from the well to nearby early production setup (EPS) at Baghjan is being maintained with all operating parameters within desired level and safety measures in place, the statement further added.

National Green Tribunal committee

Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) committee headed by former Gauhati High Court Justice Brojendra Prasad Katakey has said OIL had been carrying out drilling and testing of hydrocarbons without the required consent and environmental clearances.

The committee was set up by the principal bench of the NGT on June 26 to study how the blowout of a natural gas well in Baghjan impacted local residents and the environment.

The expert committee observed that on the day of the blowout and the subsequent explosion, OIL did not have the mandatory consent “under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act and/or the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016”.

It directed the Pollution Control Board, Assam to initiate appropriate legal action against the competent authorities of OIL under the relative provisions for violating various environmental acts.

It recommended that OIL be directed to take immediate and all other urgent measures to bring down the noise level within the limit prescribed under Rule 3(1) and Rule 4(1) of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.

The committee is likely to submit a final report by December 15. The committee has recommended payment of Rs 25 lakh to 173 families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 families identified by the district administration.

It said OIL has been unable to carry out the biodiversity impact assessment study either through the Assam State Biodiversity Board, as was mandated by the Supreme Court, a fact that stands corroborated by the Assam State Biodiversity Board, or by any other agency.

“Such  actions place OIL in continuing contempt of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India, specifically the order dated 07.09.2017 granting conditional approval to OIL to undertake the present extraction of hydrocarbons from the proposed wells including the well  Baghjan-5,” the report said.

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