The National Green Tribunal has shown a red flag to Oil India Limited’s project at Baghjan, Tinsukia with many violations. NGT has slammed OIL that it doesn’t have the required consents to establish or operate or either carry out any testing or drilling of hydrocarbons in Baghjan well-5.
The gas well eruption on May 27, 2020, at Baghjan has brought the entire Eco-systems in the area under turmoil along with loss of property and threats to human life. Coming up with a preliminary report, the panel has recommended strict scrutiny of all the ongoing projects of OIL in Assam by keeping a keen view of various statutory Environmental safeguards and the recent grave infractions.
The report stresses in the standard operating procedures, which clearly did not run accounting to how it was planned and executed. The report further slams by mentioning various deficiencies in overall supervision at the well site both from contactors and OIL which led to this disaster.
The report also mentioned OIL of not having proper Environmental clearance to runt the project. The operations in Baghjan Well no-5 started in November 2006 and the clearance was not sought until November 2007. It was granted permission in 2011.
The committee also mentioned that the biodiversity impact assessment study was yet to be conducted as mandated by the Supreme Court order that allowed it to seek clearance for exploring hydrocarbons under Dibru Saikhowa National Park in 2017. The committee of experts submitted a preliminary report to the National Green Tribunal on 24th of July 2020 which was set up under former Guwahati High Court Judge B. P Katakey.
After much scrutiny of the situation, the panel found conclusive evidence of violations and non-compliance made by OIL of the key Environmental safeguards and safety oversights which stands ineffective under various laws.
After the fire explosion on 9th June 2020, the Baghjan Well no-5 still remains lit and has led to the displacement of more than 9000 people into 10 relief camps. According to the report it was also stated that the mishap has gravely affected the area in a radius of 6km from the well site and close to Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Maguri-Motapong Wetland.
Wildlife Institute of India has also done the impact assessment and found that high levels of Carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons pollutants have been found in the Eco-system of the site area. These pollutants will gradually percolate into the ground and contaminate the groundwater further.
The committee has recommended interim compensation to the affected families with various compensations like
1. 25 lakh rupees to the completely destroyed houses
2. 10 lakh rupees for the severely damaged
3. 2.5 lakhs for moderately damaged ones