Assam Govt Sends Notice to OIL After Dead Fishes Found in Lake Near Blowout Site

The forest department of Assam has issued a notice to Oil India Ltd (OIL) after fishes and a dolphin reportedly died in a lake close to Dibru Saikhowa National Park following a blowout in a gas well of the public sector undertaking in Tinsukia district.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has directed the chairperson of the state pollution control board to visit the site and submit a report immediately, a senior forest department official said on Saturday.

OIL on May 27 reported a blowout at one of its gas- producing wells at Baghjan near Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Tinsukia district, leading to the evacuation of thousands of locals from around the site.

The company said it is working with experts from Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to mitigate the situation.

"We issued a notice to Oil India yesterday seeking a detailed report of the extent of damage to the environment through our Tinsukia DFO. We have asked them to give details of the area under damage and composition of the gas and liquid," the official said.

Photographs of a dead river dolphin and many fishes floating in a waterbody, claimed to be the Maguri-Motapung lake, which is adjacent to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and about 1.5 km from the incident site, have gone viral on social media.

The notice also sought to know whether the gas released is very harmful to humans and biodiversity, as the area is very sensitive from the environmental point of view, the official said.

He said the chairperson of the Pollution Control Board, Assam will make a site visit at the earliest along with the OIL chairman to assess the damage and measures taken to control the blowout.

When contacted, an OIL spokesperson said the company received a notice from the forest department and replied to it on Friday evening.

"Our CMD has reached field headquarters at Duliajan and held a meeting with the experts today. He will visit the blowout site with the chairperson of the pollution control board in a day or two," he added.

On the repairing of the well in which the blowout happened, the spokesperson said everything is being done expeditiously to minimise the impact.

Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Friday "advised OIL to take all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of the local population", the company said in a statement.

He also instructed the ONGC to provide support to OIL in this moment of crisis.

"OIL management is hopeful that the well will be brought under control at the earliest. At this critical time, OIL seeks the support of all the stakeholders so that together this crisis can be overcome," the statement said.

The safety zone was extended to 1.5 km from the well site and another relief camp was set up to evacuate the people with the help of Tinsukia district administration, it added.