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Assam: Baghjan blast continues to affect wildlife in Maguri

After the initial blowout on 27th May of the BGR 5 oil well of Baghjan area in Tinsukia, Assam, another fire engulfed on 9th June. Locals fled due to the ensuing situation and so far have been kept in relief centres. Many farmers have revealed that their crops have been damaged as condensate gas falls in villages and in Maguri beel near the site of the oil well fire.

After the initial pictures of the systematic destruction of the man and wildlife synergy in Maguri Beel, more photos reveal the current situation of the area.

Where’s the Maguri Beel?

Maguri Beel is a large wetland located 3.8 Km away from Guijan Ghat, gateway of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Biosphere Reserve. A small channel connects Maguri Beel with the Dibru River to the North. It has grown in importance because it is home to some of the rarest of the bird species and attracts varied other bird species from around the globe. It has already been declared an Important Birding Site (IBA) by BirdLife International. Therefore it has become a major attraction & destination for bird lovers and ornithologists.

The beel is also very rich in aquatic life and this has led to the development of many fishing camps near it. The grassland environment near the beel, creates a safe haven for grassland birds. Some of the migratory bird species visiting the beel include the Ruddy Shelduck, Baikal Teal, Bar-Headed Goose, Falcated Duck, Ferrigunuous Duck, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Teal, Black- Headed Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Eurasian Curlew etc.

Also read: From blowout to floods: The chronology of Baghjan tragedy

Maguri now

Following the blowout, a lot of areas near the beel has seen evidence of wildlife deaths. These are some of the photos of the destruction in the area.

However, the damage has not yet halted amid the efforts of OIL, as on June 28, with the 2nd wave of floods, things have only worsened. Following photos reveal the onslaught on wildlife by the blast.

Fish dead in the Maguri beel

Speaking to Inside Northeast, Satyajit Moran said, “We have informed the OIL administration regarding the issue of wildlife effects due to the floods. Not only Maguri, but even the Brahmaputra is also affected now as the oil spill spreads through the rising waters. So far, the govt has taken no steps to mitigate these problems”.

Inside Northeast approached local environmentalist, Niranta Gohain who is trying to reach the areas for more details. He raised the need for an independent study, to understand the overall impact so far and how long it will continue. “CM Sonowal has initiated a biodiversity survey to take stock of the situation. But, we need a better survey led by the public through their cooperation. Leaders are only busy with relief camps as the money distribution takes place”.

Gohain believes these efforts will not the bigger problem. “We need more domain experts to visit the area and understand the situation”.

Going forward

The entire issue has exposed current vulnerabilities of India’s development that claims to have checks and balances to reduce the ill effects of exploitation. However, those counterbalances have failed the Maguri heel, Dibru Saikowa and Dehing Patkai because individual departments instead of providing clarity on their role are passing the buck to others in the name of technicalities. The elected representatives have been short-sighted in their policy-making to protect the sensitive ecology of Assam.

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