Massive fire in Assam’s gas-leaking well, CM talks to defence minister
Guwahati, June 9 (IANS): A massive fire has broke out at the leaking natural gas producing well of Oil India Ltd (OIL) in Assam’s Tinsukia district on Tuesday even as an expert team from a Singapore-based emergency management firm is trying to plug the leakage, officials said.
Officials in Tinsukia said that the huge fire, which began on Tuesday afternoon, may spread to adjoining areas.
Officials said that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who had earlier talked with Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan after the gas leakage started, on Tuesday talked to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to seek help from the Indian Air Force to douse the blaze.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), which has been deployed in the area after the gas leakage started on May 27, reinforced their strength to control the fire while top officials of Assam are also reviewing the situation.
The oil well at Baghjan in Tinsukia, around 550 km east of Guwahati, has been leaking gas for the past 14 days, causing enormous damage to the region’s wildlife, wetlands and biodiversity.
Farm land with standing crops, as well as ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been badly affected and the threat is growing with every passing day. Many small tea growers in the area have also claimed layers of gas condensates in their tea gardens.
As many as 700 families, comprising 3,500 people, have earlier been shifted to three relief camps after the leakage began.
The state-owned OIL has also announced financial aid of INR 30,000 to each of the affected families. An OIL press release said that after the preliminary discussion and de-briefing session, the experts from Singapore’s ‘Alert Disaster Control’, led by Michael Ernest Allcorn, along with the OIL team, reached Baghjan well site on Monday afternoon. Meanwhile, over 45 environmentalists, academics, wildlife experts, writers, social activists and journalists have expressed concern over the environmental consequences of the blowout near the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, a biodiversity hotspot.