A group of 45 individuals and organisations from the north-eastern States has asked Oil India Limited (OIL) to decontaminate the area around one of its wells in Assam where a blowout on May 27 led to the “uncontrollable” spewing of natural gas.
The demand, made on Thursday, coincided with OIL engaging a consultant to carry out an environment impact assessment study around the Baghjan well in Tinsukia district that adjoins the Maguri-Motapung wetland, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
A team of the consultant company, which is recognised by the National Accreditation Board for Education and Training, has reached the site and started work, an OIL spokesperson said from the exploration major’s headquarters Duliajan.
“We have also approached the CSIR-National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur, and the Wild Life Institute of India, Dehradun, for conducting detailed impact assessment studies,” the spokesperson said.
A disaster-control team from Singapore was expected to reach the spot soon to handle the crisis, he added.
“Individuals and members of civil society organisations would like to express our concerns over the adverse and irreparable environmental and social impact that is caused by the oil spill at Baghjan and by all the other ongoing extractive projects in the entire northeast,” the group of 45 said in a statement.
“On the day of the oil spill…people began fleeing from their village, some to their friends and relatives, some took shelter on the village school premises and some were shifted to relief camps. After a night of horror, some became eager to return to their homes as the sanitary condition in the relief camp was deplorable,” the group said.
The group demanded immediate rehabilitation of and compensation to the villagers and clean-up of the village areas, waterbodies and the air contaminated by the blowout.
“Companies exploring and exploiting natural resources in the region should be held accountable for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity of the region caused by their explorations,” the group said, seeking a halt to all projects in fragile biodiversity zones.