New Delhi: Over a month-and-a-half later, industrial disaster experts and authorities in Tinsukia district of Assam have still not been able to plug the gas leak from a well owned by state-run OIL (Oil India Limited). After a review meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 18, a statement released by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had said that the well is expected to be capped by July 7. However, the progress has been impeded by floods and heavy rainfall and a month on, the Baghjan well is still leaking gas. An official spokesperson who spoke to PSU Watch said that the revised schedule for capping the well expected the operation to be over by July 15, however, because of the delay caused by rain and floods, the schedule will be reassessed on July 14. A source who spoke to PSU Watch on the condition of anonymity said that the date is likely to be revised again, considering the situation on the ground.
"OIL's Technical teams worked overnight on war-footing to restore severely damaged site condition by repairing/laying Porta Deck Mat and checked/tested/serviced all pumps/equipment/auxiliaries to make them ready for resuming debris removal operation from today morning. Alert and ONGC & OIL's technical teams are at site and debris removal job has already started today," said an official statement released by OIL on Monday. It added that while one of the two pump stations at Dangori river camp is ready for delivery, the other one is still submerged in water.
The statement said that while ecological survey in Dhelakhat tea garden and in Motapung village, and air quality and noise level monitoring continued, fresh flood and incessant rain hampered the site preparation activities of bioremediation process of affected areas. "Bio material for bio remediation process received and application of the same will be started once water level recedes in affected areas," said OIL. Recording is in progress for seismological study in the vicinity of Baghjan-5 well, it added.
Due to stoppage/blockades, there was production loss of 452 MT of crude oil and 1.57 MMSCM of natural gas as reported on July 12, said OIL. "Operations were disrupted at 11 Oil wells and five gas wells. The cumulative production loss since May 27, due to bandhs and blockades stands at 11,764 MT for crude oil and 20.47 MMSCM for natural gas," said the statement.
The total number of families surveyed by authorities for relief and rehabilitation so far is 1,285.
Meanwhile, the NGT (National Green Tribunal), Eastern Zone, has accepted a new case against OIL which contended that the well number 5 at Baghjan contained gas condensates before the blowout and the blowout happened because the authorities did not take the requisite precautions at the time the condensates' presence was detected. The new petition has been admitted for hearing, along with the other three, on July 29.
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