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Government, Oil India to compensate all affected in Assam gas well fire

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, said a model and a veterinary hospital, a higher secondary school and a skill development centre will be set up in Baghjan.

SNS | New Delhi |

Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday said people affected in OIL India’s Baghjan gas well tragedy which left two firefighters dead, will be “adequately” compensated. Pradhan reached Assam on Saturday to review the situation arising after a blowout and successive inferno that killed two persons.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who accompanied Pradhan to the disaster site and relief camps, said a model and a veterinary hospital, a higher secondary school and a skill development centre will be set up in Baghjan.

“Today I announce that the Baghajan embankment will be constructed at a cost of Rs 27 crore,” he said.

“We will compensate all the affected people. Tea gardens, betel nut trees, fishes, houses and any other properties that have been damaged will be compensated in consultation with the Assam government,” Pradhan told people living in a relief camp.

“Oil India is an Assamese company. It has been working here for many decades. Both the Centre and the state have constituted high-level inquiry committees. We will punish the culprit for this disaster even if he is a powerful man,” Pradhan said.

The company and the Tinsukia district administration have moved more than 7,000 people from nearby areas of the gas well site to 14 relief camps.

The chief minister announced that a concrete road between Baghjan and Tinsukia city will be constructed. “The Maguri-Motapung wetland is Baghjan’s property. Oil India will clean the wetland,” he said.

After reaching Guwahati on Saturday night, Pradhan held a review meeting with Sonowal in presence of Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of State for Environment and Forest Naba Kumar Doley and BJP Lok Sabha Member Topon Kumar Gogoi.

The well number 5 at Baghjan has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 19 days and it caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Though there is no fire in the periphery of the well site at present, the company has declared an area up to 1.5 km of radius as “red zone” to avoid any untoward incident.

At present, five inquiries are taking place to find out facts, a three-member probe by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, a one-member probe ordered by the chief minister and an internal five-member inquiry by OIL.

An OIL release said that a “roadmap” for the well control operation by experts’ team from Singapore based M/s Alert, along with ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation), Crisis Management Team and VP Mahawar, Ex-Director (Onshore) of ONGC has been prepared to put out the inferno and plug the 19-day long leakage of gas and oil condensate in an OIL’s oil well in Tinsukia district.

It also added that a high discharge water pump was placed at the site while suitable place for stacking of materials and equipment was being mobilised from ONGC to be used for the control operation has been identified.

The chief minister also ordered the Additional Principal Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) to conduct a study on the impact of the explosion on the environment and ecology of the surrounding areas, including on flora and fauna in the adjacent Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.

Already two officials of OIL have been suspended for alleged negligence of duty at the gas well site, while a show-cause notice has been to John Energy Pvt Ltd, the outsourced private operator of the well. A case has also been registered against Oil India and John Energy over the incident.

(With inputs from PTI)