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From blowout to floods: The chronology of Baghjan tragedy

June 26: The latest on Baghjan, Assam has been the onset of heavy rainfall since the last few days and as such the area has been badly hit by the floods. Dangori River level is rising constantly. The OIL operations to control the blaze is severely affected due to water and soft soil condition.

Source: Oil India Twitter

From bad to worse

June 25: The Baghjan situation now faces another challenge of the annual Assam floods. The oil well blowout site has lost its connectivity with the other parts of the state through Rupai Tea Estate in the Tinsukia district in Assam after a bridge at the Estate collapsed. This was the link road. The spot can be reached through the Kaliapani bridge in the district. “Due to incessant heavy rainfall and regular movement of heavy vehicles on the bridge since May 27th, 2020, when the Baghjan blowout took place and a subsequent blast at the site on June 9th, 2020, the bridge damaged. It will not only hamper the Baghjan oil well blowout capping work but the thousands of local residents will suffer due to it,” Ramnath Bharali, a local resident told the InsideNE. The locals also urged the government for the reconstruction of the bridge at the earliest.

Assam: Baghjan oil well blowout site loses connectivity after bridge collapses

June 23: As the Guijan river overflooded, villagers in the peripheries who were already affected by the blowout and the blast had to be rehabilitated into Tinsukia Borguri Higher Secondary School on Wednesday. They had to face great difficulties and received food quite. As the water receded from that area, they have been brought bacc on the next day.

villagers of Baghjan
Photo credits: Niranta Gohain

10 june: There were tremors in the peripheral villages of the Baghjan blowout area in places like Natun Gaon.

Speaking to Inside Northeast, Niranta Gohain local environmentalist said, “The sound problem is still and tremors are felt. From 7th July, the OIL has said, they will stop the pipe flow and the fire will be stopped but that won’t stop the impact which will remain for years”. He alleges that due to the govt pressure the pollution control has withdrawn the closure notice to OIL. “The high temperature has totally made the area vulnerable and only through a proper impact assessment we will know how much the fishing and agriculture activities have been destructed in the region”.

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9th June: The blowout caught fire when well control experts from M/S Alert Disaster Control had arrived at the scene to begin work on capping the well. The fire is still raging as this report is being typed out. Villagers were evacuated immediately and sheltered in nearby schools which facilitated as relief centres. Two persons, both OIL employees, have lost their lives due to the blowout.

27th May: An Oil India Limited gas well, the BGR 5, faced a blowout which spewed hydrocarbons across a huge radius raining the adjoining villages in Baghjan with associated condensate. 

As per a local observer, “OIL has given assurances to stop the fire by 7th July, although the floods are causing a big problem to that deadline. The bridge that connects the area to the rest of towns has been broken. It will definetly hamper the operations”.

As such, the Baghjan situation now faces uncertainties amid the wrath of floods and the rising cases of the corona that makes the villagers vulnerable to the disease as they are kept in relief centres and devoid of the safety of their own homes.

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