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Assam Pollution Control board serves closure notice to OIL over illegal drilling at Baghjan

The Pollution Control Board, Assam, has served a closure notice to the Oil India Limited for carrying illegal drilling at the Baghjan oil field in the Tinsukia district. The board on June 19th, 2020, directed the OIL to close down its production as well as drilling operations at the Baghjan oil field in the Tinsukia district. The board also directed the OIL authority to extinguish the fire that engulfed the area after a blast at the BGR 5 well on June 9th, 2020.

The board stated that the OIL has nonchalantly violated the provisions of law in force causing pollution to the environment and in exercising of powers conferred upon the under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; Section 33A of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 31A of the Our (Prevention & Control of Pollution, Oct 1981 as amended till date.

OIL has also not submitted the Annual Report regularly under Section 9 of the Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016, which is a serious violation and liable to be punished under the law in force, the board said while observing negligence and carelessness on the part of the OIL authority towards the safety of public life and the property in the adjacent areas as well as the protection of the environment.

It further observed that the OIL has been operating production and drilling installations without being equipped with proper safety and precautionary measures for the which often major accidents are occurred at the drill sites/ production installations.

The board said that the OIL has destroyed the aquatic life of Dibru Saikhowa National Park and Maguri- Motapung wetland of endangered species in the name of exploring oil without any mitigation measures.

Besides, the authority stated that the OIL has carried out the Bagjhan oil field activities without obtaining prior consent to establish/ consent to operate from the Pollution Control Board, Assam, which is serious violation of the provisions of the Water Act, 1974, Air Act, 1981 as well as Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Also read: Baghjan tragedy: CM offers lollipop ahead of 2021 Assembly election

Baghjan tragedy

After the initial blowout on May 27th, 2020, the BGR 5 oil well of Baghjan area was engulfed in a massive fire after a blast on June 9th, 2020 resulting in the death of endangered species in and around the national park including the rare dolphins. A dense cloud of smoke was seen erupting out of Oil India BGR 5 well was seen.

On the next day of the blast, a team of experts arrived from Singapore to Assam, who reached the site on Monday and were supposed to work on it. Many families of nearby villages have been affected badly. Locals fled due to the ensuing situation and so far have been kept in 12 relief centres.

The blowout happened while workover operations were going on to produce gas from new sand (oil & gas-bearing reservoir) at a depth of 3,729 metres. Earlier, the well was producing around 1 lakh Standard Cubic Metre per day (SCMD) of gas from a depth of 3,870 metres,” an Oil India statement said.

An explosion or blowout means that there has been an uncontrolled release of crude oil and/or natural gas from an oil well or gas well. This happens after pressure control systems fail.

The workover operations were being carried out by Chartered Hire Rig owned by John Energy under the supervision of OIL, an OIL statement said.

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