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Baghjan tragedy: CM offers lollipop ahead of 2021 Assembly election

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who visited the blowout site at Baghjan oil field of Oil India Limited, made a set of announcements ahead of the 2021 State Legislative Assembly Election instead of making any remarks on dousing the fire at the earliest.

The CM announced maximum compensation to all the families by the Baghjan disaster, after the damage assessment is done.

The Chief Minister announced that for bringing permanent solution to the problem of floods and erosion in Baghjan area, state government has earmarked an amount of Rs 27 crore which would be released soon. Apart from that, one model hospital and a veterinary hospital would also be set up in the area along with a model higher secondary school, he announced. Development of the Tinsukia-Baghjan road, converting Maguri-Motapung Beel into an international tourist destination by both OIL and state government, providing financial assistance to women SHGs of the area, setting up a skill development centre were some other key announcements made by the Chief Minister. 

“A detailed plan will be prepared by the district administration in consultation with affected people. Funds will be provided by Government of Assam and OIL,” CM Sonowal said.

Also read: Maguri beel in Assam faces endgame after Baghjan blast

Finding solution: Dharmendra Pradhan

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who visited the site, took stock of the damages wrought by gas well blow out incident there and the control measures being carried out by foreign experts and other specialists of OIL and other agencies and progress made by them.  

Saying that he was in touch with CM Sonowal over phone since the incident broke out, the Union Minister assured that the affected people would be provided maximum compensation for their losses and asked the people to extend their full cooperation to the government in controlling the gas well fire.      

Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan

Subsequently, he also visited the relief camp set up at Baghjan Dighaltorong High School for the affected people of the area and interacted with the inmates. Offering his respect and empathy to the people for the hardships they were going through due to the gas well fire incident, Chief Minister Sonowal said that such an incident was completely unfortunate and unexpected and state government was taking the matter very seriously.

He further added that the Additional Chief Secretary Maninder Singh has already been directed to inquire into the causes leading to the incident and submit report within 15 days while Additional PCCF (wildlife) M.K.Yadava has been entrusted with the responsibility to carry out a study on the adverse impact of gas well explosion on the ecology and environment of area. He also said that the central government too had constituted a three-member high-level committee to investigate the matter.     

“Both the central and state governments had been constantly monitoring the whole situation and the damages are being assessed and assured that people would be given maximum compensation for their losses,” the CM said.

Locals not convinced

The locals of the area are not convinced with the CM Sonowal’s announcements today. “We are not here to listen to the announcements. Douse the fire and compensate us,” a local said while expressing strong resentment at the government’s ‘inactive’ move to douse the fire.

“In fact”, he said, “it has become impossible to maintain physical distancing at the relief camp,” he said.

The locals including environmentalists staged a series of protests against the OIL and the state government following the blowout. They demanded protection of the fragile ecology in and around the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri beel.

Also read: Former Assam CM demands CBI probe into Baghjan blowout tragedy

Congress demands CBI probe

Former three-time Assam Chief Minister and the senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi demanded the CBI probe into the blowout at the BGR 5 well at Baghjan in Tinsukia alleging gross negligence of Oil India Limited.

“The lapses and gross negligence of OIL resulting Baghjan Oil Well blowout causing immense hardship of the local inhabitants of Baghjan should be inquired into by the CBI,” the octogenarian leader tweeted.

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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