GUWAHATI: ANational Green Tribunal (NGT)panel set up to probe into the blowout atBaghjaninAssam’sTinsukia districton Tuesday submitted a report saying thatOil India Limited (OIL)was operating the oilfield without the mandatory environmental clearance when the incident took place.
On May 27, OIL’s Well No. 5 experienced a blowout followed by a fire. The blowout site, located next to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, has been spewing gas for 160 days now.
The panel, headed by former Gauhati High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey, was formed on June 24.
“It was therefore inferred prima facie that on the day of the blowout of Well Baghjan-5 on 27.05.2020 and explosion on 09.06.2020, OIL did not have the mandatory consents, including the CTE/NOC and/or the CTO under the Water Act, Air Act and/or the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016,” the NGT progress report said. .
It concluded that OIL had not been granted the mandatory consent for drilling operation of Baghjan Well-5 in 2006-07, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2019-20.
Pollution body told to act against OIL
The report read, “Therefore it clearly supports the conclusions drawn in the preliminary report and establishes the fact that OIL does not have the mandatory authorizations. Such omissions on the part of OIL amounts to a clear violation not merely of the statutory mandate, but also the conditions that have been stipulated under Clause 10 (111) and (vi) of the Environment Clearance dated 11.05.2020 with respect to the extension drillmg & testing of hydrocarbons at 7 locations under the DSNP Area, where the blowout and subsequent fire occurred with respect to Baghjan Well-5, as has been indicated in the preliminary report.”
In the preliminary report, the panel had found negligence on the part of OIL for “mismatch between planning and execution” leading to the well blowout that caused “extensive damage” to the environment, flora, fauna and humans.
The panel has directed the Pollution Control Board, Assam, to initiate appropriate legal action against the competent authorities of OIL under the relative provisions for violating various environmental Acts. It recommended that OIL be directed to take immediate and all other urgent measures to bring down the noise level within the limit prescribed under Rule 3(1) and Rule 4(1) of the Noise Pollution (Regulation and Control) Rules, 2000.
The committee is likely to submit a final report by December 15.The committee has recommended payment of Rs 25 lakh to 173 families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 families identified by the district administration.
It said OIL has been unable to carry out the biodiversity impact assessment study either through the Assam State Biodiversity Board, as was mandated by the SC.
“Such actions place OIL in continuing contempt of the directions passed by the Supreme Court of India, specifically the order dated 07.09.2017 granting conditional approval to OIL to undertake the present extraction of hydrocarbons from the proposed wells, including the Baghjan Well-5,” the report said.