Stop all operations at Baghjan, pollution watchdog tells OIL
GUWAHATI: The Pollution Control Board, Assam, has issued a closure notice to Oil India Limited (OIL), directing it to ‘close down’ production, including drilling operations, at the Baghjan oil field in Assam’s Tinsukia district and take all necessary measures for ‘extinguishing’ the fire from the well. “OIL respects the Pollution Control Board but we are seeking legal recourse against the closure notice. OIL is not a fly-by-night operator. Its operations are very complex and we simply cannot close the valve and go away,” an official of OIL said. The board in its notice stated that the oil company has “nonchalantly violated the provisions of law in force causing pollution to the environment.” The board stated that by exercising powers conferred upon it under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, it has directed OIL to “CLOSE DOWN all the production as well as drilling operations of your all installations of Baghjan Oil Field forthwith and to take all necessary measures for extinguishing the fire/blow-out of the Well No. BGN-5.OIL has been operating in the Baghjan oilfield since 2001 and has as many as 21 producing wells in this oilfield. The Well No. 5 suffered a blowout on May 27 and caught fire on June 9. “The Pollution Control Board periodically carries out surprise inspections of our sites, not just at Baghjan but other locations too,” the official said. The pollution watchdog has also asked the Assam Power Development Corporation Limited (APDCL) to disconnect power supply to OIL operations sites at the Baghjan oilfield. The OIL official said, “OIL does not use power from the grid for its field operations. We have our own power generators. Instead, OIL supplies gas from Baghjan to power generating companies in upper Assam and if OIL shuts down its operations, all upper Assam districts will plunge into darkness.” He added that stopping production of gas from Baghjan will affect about 4,00 tea gardens The board further stated in its notice that OIL could not reply to a showcause notice issued a day after the well caught fire and instead sought more time for it. The closure notice added that OIL was “destroying 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.” Referring to the blowout incident and subsequent explosion of the well, the board said that the incident shows “negligence and carelessness of authority of M/S OIL, Duliajan towards safety of people’s life and property in the neighbouring area as well as towards protection of environment.The board also held OIL accountable for not submitting the annual report regularly, which, it said, was “a serious violation and liable to be punished under the law.