GUWAHATI :
The Assam government on Wednesday said two more months are likely to be taken by the experts to douse the flame at Oil India’s damaged gas well at Baghjan, where the gas is flowing uncontrollably for the past 99 days. Responding to a Zero Hour notice by Congress MLA Durga Bhumij, Commerce and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that a team of experts from Canada are on their way to Baghjan in Tinsukia district to “kill” the well through snubbing technology.

“The experts are on their way to Assam from Canada with all advanced equipment. They will kill the well through snubbing technology. After carrying out preparatory works, the exercise may take 6-8 weeks to complete,” Patowary said. In the meantime, the Oil India Ltd (OIL) is working on to control the well temporarily by shifting the flowing gas through a diverter and then producing the gas in two parallel lines, he added.

The well no. 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 99 days since May 27, and it caught fire on June 9 killing two of OIL’s firefighters at the site. The minister said that a total of 3,000 families have been shifted to relief camps and the OIL along with the government are taking care of them. “The 12 houses that were completely burnt are being offered 24 lakh each. In addition to that 1,484 families living nearby the well have been offered one-time relief of 30,000, while 1,197 families staying little far were given 25,000 each,” he added.

Besides, 57 families affected by the blaze will be provided 10 lakh each and 561 more families with partial impact will be given 2.5 lakh each as per the suggestions of the district administration, Patowary informed the House. He further said that the local people are getting restless due to delay in getting the compensation amount and the company’s inability to douse the fire, and they have camped in front of the Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner’s office to protest since August 24.

“Under the aegis of the local group Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Yuva Sangha, around 200 villagers are protesting. As they are peaceful, we have allowed them to voice their anger. “Taking note of their demands, we raised the concerns in front of the National Green Tribunal through its experts committee,” Patowary said. Earlier, the Leader of the Opposition Debabrata Saikia raised the issue of the draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2020 and said it has waived the prior permission norms for setting up units for many sectors.

“Tamil Nadu, Kerala and some other states have their local laws to protect the environment and farm lands. We request the Assam government to protect our land by bringing in such local laws,” he added. Bhumij also pointed out that the Baghjan well disaster has caused enormous impact on the ecology with wildlife at nearby Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and aquatic life at adjacent Maguri-Motapung Beel dying since the blowout.

On August 17, OIL achieved the first successful step towards dousing the blaze when it could place the Blow Out Preventer (BOP) in its third attempt at the mouth of the damaged gas well. However, it again suffered a setback two days later when it had to suspend works for dousing the blaze after the casing valve used during the operation ruptured.

The BOP is a very heavy metal cover weighing several tonnes that is placed at the mouth of any gas or oil well to stop leakage of the fuel from under the ground. On July 22, three foreign experts from Singaporean firm Alert Disaster Control, which was invited to assist OIL and ONGC experts for putting out the inferno, received burn injuries while they were removing a spool from the well head.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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