Oil and gas continue to leak at Baghjan; foreign experts to arrive on June 7

The villagers of the surrounding areas of the site of oil well blast at Baghjan in Tinsukia district of Assam staged demonstration on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5 for safeguarding the biodiversity and their lives even as the oil and gas continues to leak from the site.

The blast occurred at the oil well operated by the Oil India Limited (OIL) on May 27 and continues to leak oil and gas since then putting the lives of humans and wildlife in danger.

“If this continues like this, we will not survive here. The surrounding biodiversity will be destroyed. This is high time, OIL stops drilling and exploration in the eco-sensitive areas. Its nine days and oil and gas continue to leak from the site. This is terrible,” said Kalpana Deka, a woman who participated in the demonstration.

The people in the nearby villages have already been shifted to relief camps. OIL authorities said around 2500 persons have been evacuated and placed in safe places which are more than 1.5 kilometre from the site.

The leakage posed threat to the wildlife as well. Maguri-Motapung wetland, a famous ecotourism spot 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.

Already an endangered river dolphin was found dead along with a large number of fishes in the water bodies nearby.

“The things don’t look good at all with the continuous leakage of gas and oil. It has already spread to the nearby agriculture fields. Children are having breathing problems in the neighbourhood even though the families have been evacuated. Many complain of several headaches. The domestic animals have also suffered. We have found dead snakes and birds in the nearby areas,” Niranta Gohain, an environmentalist of the locality, told The News Mill.

Villagers staged demonstration on the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5 | Photo: Niranta Gohain

Gohain said that the damage can be even more and deadly. “If this continues, I can’t even imagine the situation. The constant sound that is coming from the site is also causing disturbances to the avian species in the area,” said Gohain.

Various local bodies have already sent a memorandum to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal demanding strict measures to avoid this kind of situation in future and demanded that OIL should stop further exploration and drilling in eco-sensitive and fragile biodiversity in Assam.

They also demanded an investigation to prosecute the responsible officials.

The OIL authorities on June 5 said that the experts from Singapore will be arriving at the venue on June 7.

The three experts from M/s Alert are senior well control operations and team leader Michael Ernest Allcorn, senior well control engineer Craig Neil Duncan and senior well control specialist Edward Harris MacLeod.

The OIL will be providing an amount of Rs 30,000 to each of the impacted families as an immediate relief.

About Abdul Gani

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Abdul Gani is a Guwahati-based journalist

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