Guwahati, Nov 4: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) committee, which was constituted to examine the gas well blowout at Baghjan in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district, has in its progress report stated that Oil India Limited (OIL) did not have the mandatory environmental clearance when the mishap took place on May 27, 2020.
The blowout at the gas well (number five) of OIL at Baghjan led to a massive explosion on June 9, 2020.
Situated near the Dibru Saikhowa National Park (DSNP), the well has been spewing gas for over five months now even as its flow has been diverted to four other locations.
In the progress report submitted on Tuesday, the committee mentioned that “prima facie on the day of the blowout of Well Baghjan-5 on May 27, 2020 and explosion on June 9, 2020, OIL did not have the mandatory consent, including the CTE (consent to establish)/NOC and/or the CTO (consent to operate) under the Water Act, Air Act and/or the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016.”.
The committee, headed by former Gauhati High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey, was formed on June 24, 2020 after a Kolkata-based activist, Bonani Kakkar and Wildlife and Environment Conservation Organisation, approached the tribunal.
The committee, in its latest report, concluded that OIL had not been granted the mandatory consent for drilling operations at Baghjan oil number five during the years 2006-07, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14, 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2019-20.
“Therefore it clearly supports the conclusions drawn in the preliminary report and establishes the fact that OIL does not have the mandatory authorisation,” the committee stated in the report.
“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 drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations under the DSNP area,” it stated in the progress report.
The committee, which is likely to submit a final report by December 15, 2020, also recommended compensation of Rs 25 lakh to 173 affected families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 affected families identified by the Tinsukia district administration.