Assam Environment

PCBA claims burning OIL well have ‘no pollution clearance’, issues notice to shut down all operations

-Avishek Sengupta

Pollution Control Board, Assam had on Friday issued a “closure notice” to the state-owned Oil India Limited’s gas well in Baghjan that had been burning since June 9, 13 days of leaking gas “uncontrollably” since May 27.

In a letter addressed to the Resident Chief Executive, OIL; the PCBA has directed the company to close down production and drilling operations of all installations of Baghjan oilfield in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district.

“It is mandatory to obtain prior permission/clearance from MoEF&CC as well as State PCB for production, drilling, pumping of crude oil and laying pipeline activities as per EIA notification, 2006 and various provisions under the Section 25/26 of the Water (Prevention of Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 21 of the Air (Prevention of Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Authorization under the Hazardous & other waste (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 as amended up to date,” said the notice, copy of which is available with NewsMove.

There are 21 active oil wells in Baghjan and the adjoining area of Oil India Limited.

Only last month MoEF&CC gave the environmental clearance to seven more proposed oil wells using the extender reach drilling (ERD) at seven locations under Dibru Saikhowa National Park, that decision had drawn sharp reaction from environmentalist.

Meanwhile, around 11,000 people from the surrounding villages are now in relief camps set up by the administration, as a measure of immediate relief to the after-affect of the massive fire at the Baghjan oil well.

On 27th May one of the oil wells in the Baghjan area, Well number 5, suffered a Blowout and gas and oil condensate leaked for 13 days before the well caught fire on June 9 and had also spread to the neighboring villages.

The Gas leak and fire had caused damage to the flora, fauna, aquatic life of the eco-sensitive Dibru Saikhowa National Park, and the Maguri Motapung wetlands.

Over 10 thousand people have been displaced, tea gardens of small tea growers have been damaged.

Oil India Limited was issued a notice on June 10 to reply within seven days. Oil India limited had asked for more time to reply, the PCB has issued the closure notice.

Meanwhile, Oil India Limited sources have confirmed the receipt of the notice and hinted that the company will take a legal recourse challenging this order and urge for a stay order.

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