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OIL’s nod to private 3rd party for drilling under scanner after Baghjan blast

After the initial blowout on 27th May, the BGR 5 oil well of Baghjan area of Tinsukia, Assam has been engulfed in a massive fire. A dense cloud of smoke was seen erupting out of the well. The incident happened amid the backdrop of a team of experts arriving from Singapore to Assam, who reached the site on Monday and were supposed to work on it.

The gravity of the problem is beyond the fire blast as many families of nearby villages have been affected badly. These families have been kept in relief centres. Inside Northeast sent a fact-finding team to the affected area which recorded visuals of the site where the fire still burns in Baghjan peripheries.

Ground zero report from Inside Northeast

Beyond human grief: Baghjan

Apart from the human toll, animals including endangered dolphins have died previously around the vicinity. The situation is even worrying as the well is near the Dibru Saikhowa National Park Assam, Maguri Beel which is designated as a biosphere reserve.

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

Inside Northeast spoke to Satyajit Moran, Milan Jyoti Sangh Baghjan Youth Organisation, “We contacted the authorities on the first day of leakage during heavy losses when people fled in the nearby areas. Even though OIL was informed to intervene and they didn’t take any measure. This led to the fire, which damaged entire Baghjan, Maguri and Dibru Saikhowa”.

“There’s heavy damage, these illegal wells should be stopped in eco-sensitive and buffer zone to avoid such things from happening again”, said the Youth leader.

“Dibru Saikhowa, Maguri Beel have been affected by illegal drilling and poluttion board couldn’t even show proper documents when asked on how the permission for drilling was granted”, said Moran.

He further stated an important issue regarding the outsourcing of drilling activities by OIL in Baghjan. “OIL delegates to 3rd parties who recklessly do it for speed”, alleges Moran. Sources close to the matter have alleged that outsourced service providers have hired diploma holders to do an engineer’s job and OIL has been using such providers to cut costs.

An underrated aspect

An important aspect of the episode is the casualisation of the labour force in the name of Public-Private Partnership (PPP). It is important to notice OIL’s response to the Baghjan blast allegation: “Then why did the service providers employees follow such orders?” It reveals the lack of coordination which is the basis of PPP. Isn’t this the neo-liberal economic model of India, which relies on disinvestment with the claims that PPP and increased private competition will increase efficiency?

This has created a national uproar regarding the seriousness of the situation. Few questions arise outsourcing 3rd party companies to manage the well without checks and balance, failure of containment measures and the total management failure. Sources close to the matter have alleged that outsourced service providers have hired diploma holders to do an engineer’s job and OIL has been using such providers to cut costs.

The current issue is now only about stopping the blowout and it should not be reduced to mere technicalities.

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