Closure notice issued to Assam OIL withdrawn
The Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) conditionally withdrew on Monday the closure notice issued to Oil India Limited’s (OIL) Baghjan oil field where a blowout last month sparked an inferno that displaced thousands, spewed thousands of litres of oil and gas into the fragile ecosystem and wreaked havoc on the local wildlife.
In a letter to OIL’s resident chief executive based in Assam’s Duliajan, PCBA said the closure notice issued on June 19 was withdrawn following an affidavit by the company to the pollution watchdog that said OIL will submit a detailed timebound environmental management plan within 15 days.
Monday’s order – seen by HT – also said OIL will have to apply for consent to operate (CTO) under section 25 of the Water (Prevention And Control) Act 1974 and section 21 of the Air (Prevention And Control) Act 1981 separately each for drilling, production and other installations along with an environmental management plan.
“They have to submit all the details of hazardous waste generated, disposed and treatment facilities as per the Hazardous and Other Waste (Management and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016,” the letter said.
DN Das, member secretary of the PCBA, was not reachable for a comment.
“Yes they have withdrawn the closure order after we gave them a very detailed affidavit and made a payment of Rs 24 lakh which was for CTO and CTE applications. The payment was pending because of a technical snag,” said Tridiv Hazarika, spokesperson, OIL.
The board issued the closure notice on Friday on the grounds that the company has been operating it without prior permissions, including the key “consent to establish” and “consent to operate” clearances.
“Baghjan oil field is located just 500 metres to the Maguri Motapung wetland which is part of eco-sensitive zone of Dibru Saikhowa National Park, which is effected severely due to the negligence from your end,” read the closure notice. “You are 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,” it added.
The blowout that began on May 27 led to the uncontrollable flow of oil from gas well 5 -- causing extensive damage to biodiversity and wildlife the region, according to a preliminary report on the environmental damage caused by the incident. There are 17 oil wells and five gas wells in the Baghjan oil field, which generates 1,200 kilolitres of crude oil and 1.5 to 2 million metric standard cubic metres of gas per day.