OIL to give Rs 30,000 to each family hit by gas well blowout in Assam

Guwahati, Jun 5 (PTI) Oil exploration major, Oil India Limited (OIL), on Friday said it will provide an immediate financial relief of Rs 30,000 to each of the over 1,600 families affected by a major blowout from a gas well in Assam.

The blowout began on May 27 from the well in Tinsukia district from which gas is 'uncontrollably' flowing out for the ninth day on Friday.

The decision for giving financial support to the affected families at Baghjan comes two days after the opposition Congress had urged the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan for an interim relief to protect the environment and address the livelihood issues of the local population.

'The OIL will be providing an amount of Rs 30,00 to each of the impacted families as an immediate relief. The list of beneficiaries with names and bank account details will be prepared by the district administration,' the public sector undertaking said in a statement.

It was decided at a tripartite meeting held on Friday at the office of the Tinsukia deputy commissioner with representatives of Baghjan Gaon Milan Jyoti Yuva Sangha and senior officials of the OIL.

Though the number of beneficiaries were not mentioned in the statement, the company had earlier said that around 1,610 families were evacuated from the nearby affected areas and housed in four relief camps.

The OIL said, the 'well is flowing gas uncontrollably', while all safety and security measures are being monitored continuously to protect surrounding villagers and their properties.

'Protection of the environment would be paramount while carrying out the well control operation...Items like breathing air cascade and H2S (Hydrogen Sulphide) detection required for blowout control activities are being mobilised,' it added.

The gas well at Baghjan, is located close to the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, known for its feral horses.

Meanwhile, the OIL said the arrival of three experts from the Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control has been delayed due to formalities related to COVID-19 pandemic.

'Alert Disaster Control will reach Duliajan late evening on June 7, 2020. The delay in their arrival is due to COVID-related clearances at Singapore,' it added.

Quoting Alert Disaster Control Managing Director Michael E Allcorn, the OIL said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore has issued a one-time 'exceptional clearance' for the chartered aircraft's landing and take-off from Singapore, and the corresponding arrival in Guwahati around 2 pm on Sunday.

The OIL also said its operations were affected due to protests staged by local people in front of Baghjan early production set-up installation, but the agitation has now been withdrawn after meeting with the Tinsukia DC.

Meanwhile, the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas Amar Nath inspected the adjacent Dibru Saikhowa National Park along with officials from the Forest Department and officials of the PSU to find out any damage caused due to seepage of oil and gas. PTI TR MM MM