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OIL drilling inside national park: Gauhati High Court fines Assam forest dept for not filing reply

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Gauhati High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the Assam forest department for failing to file an affidavit in connection with a public interest litigation on the grant of permission to Oil India Limited (OIL) to drill for hydrocarbons in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park.

The division bench of the Chief Justice (acting) NK Singh and Justice Manish Choudhury was hearing the PIL filed by advocate Mrinmoy Khataniar and mountaineer Amar Jyoti Deka , seeking the court’s intervention  against the Centre’s approval to OIL for drilling inside the forest, which is very rich in biodiversity, by amending existing norms like public hearing under the draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020.

Oil India Limited

The counsel on behalf of the Assam forest department sought more time to file the affidavit. The court immediately imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on them for failing to file the affidavit.

The PIL has raised concerns that if the company is allowed to go ahead with the drilling, then situations like Baghjan’s gas well tragedy can take place there too, thereby threatening the entire park.

The Union forest, environment and climate change ministry on May 11, had given environmental clearance for extension of drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations by OIL inside Dibru Saikhowa National Park.

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The matter has now been fixed for hearing on November 19 for consideration of stay of the environmental clearance granted to seven hydrocarbon projects in eco-sensitive Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

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