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Assam oil rig operating without environment clearance, says report; legal action against OIL recommended

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New Delhi (ILNS): The National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) main bench, headed by Justice AK Goel, had followed up the blowout on May 27 of an Oil India well in Bagahjan in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district. The committee, led by former Gauhati High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey was set up on June 24 was mandated to investigate the reason of the blowout.

Yesterday, the committee submitted its report to the NGT. The report made shocking revelations. It said that the Baghjan oilfield, as well as 26 others in Assam, are operating without mandatory environmental clearances.

As it is a blowout is dangerous. It was further found that the site is next to the eco-sensitive Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The after-effects of the blowout have not stopped, said the report. It has been spewing gas for 160 days now, impacting 10 km of eco-sensitive land around the oil and gas rig.

The issue was brought to the notice of the NGT by Bonani Kakkar and the Wildlife and Environment Conservation Organization. They wanted a full investigation.

Justice Katakey has now recommended legal action against Oil India Ltd (OIL) for violating the Air, Water, and Environmental Protection Acts.

According to the report:

“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 committee has also recommended payment of Rs 25 lakh to 173 families and Rs 20 lakh to 439 families identified by the district administration.

The final report is likely to be submitted by the Committee till December 15.

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Earlier, the Central Pollution Control Board had classified oil and gas extraction as red category industries and had prohibited their operations in ecologically fragile areas and protected areas.

-India Legal Bureau

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