A three-member expert team from a Singapore-based emergency management firm is likely to start work on Sunday night to control the 10-day gas well blowout in the Tinsukia district of Assam, according to officials, here on Saturday.
According to OIL sources, the team, led by Michael Ernest Allcorn of the Singapore-based firm Alert Disaster Control, is expected to reach the leaking oil well on Sunday evening. "The delay in their arrival is due to Covid-19 related formalities and clearances at Singapore," sources said.
As many as 650 families, comprising 2,500 people, have been shifted to three relief camps after the state-owned Oil India's (OIL) oil well at the Baghjan village in Tinsukia, around 550 km east of Guwahati, started spewing natural gas on May 27.
OIL will pay Rs 30,000 as immediate relief to each impacted family. It was decided at the Friday's tripartite meeting at the Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner's office, which was attended by the representatives of the Baghjan Gaon Milan Jyoti Yuva Sangha and OIL officials.
Claiming that no human life has been lost due to release of natural gas, crude oil spillage or condensate during the past several years, OIL denied local media reports that four persons died at Natun Gaon (a nearby village) due to pollution from the blowout.
According to OIL, associated condensates coming out with the gas are water sprayed and collected in a pond near the well site and then transported to Duliajan. Utmost care has been taken to check spillage of condensate to surrounding areas. A barricade has been created around the well site to prevent the contaminated water runoff to surrounding and nearby water bodies.
OIL officials said poor weather conditions were hampering removal of equipment from well plinth and development of approach roads for removing equipment from the site. Local fishermen with boats have been deployed to identify oil spillage, if any, in Maguri Matapung Beel (lake) for immediate remedial action.
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.
In a statement, they said the Baghjan oilfield was located next to the Maguri-Motapung wetland, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known for migratory birds and feral horses. The villagers of this area were dependent upon the wetland and the Dangori and Dibru rivers in the Baghjan area for livelihood.