Guwahati, June 4 (IANS) A Singapore-based emergency management firm will start work to control the 8-day long blowout in the gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district, officials said on Thursday.
The announcement came even as experts, individuals and members of civil society organisations expressed concern over the environmental effect of the blowout near the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, a biodiversity hotspot.
At least 650 families, comprising 2,500 people, have been shifted to three relief camps after the state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) oil well at Baghjan village in Tinsukia, around 450 km east of Guwahati, started releasing natural gas into the air after a leak for the past eight days.
An OIL official said that the experts and engineers of the Singapore-based Alert Disaster Control are being mobilised and they are expected to reach the accident site by Thursday night or early Friday.
“Gas is flowing gas uncontrollably from the well. The OIL has also taken a series of measures to deal with the situation,” an OIL release said.
The OIL measures include pumping of water to the well through the casing valve, fabrication of the fit for the purpose of equipment (hydraulically driven mechanical transporter), removal of well site debris, completion of digging of water reservoir near well site, preparation of area for placement of pumps of 2,500 gallons capacity, and collection of required quantity of water from the source.
The release said that a team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is being mobilised to look after the relief operations.
The OIL had already approached the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and Dehradun-based Wild Life Institute of India for conducting a detailed impact assessment studies.
Ove 45 environmentalists, academicians, wildlife experts, writers, social activists and journalists expressed deep concern over the blowout and environmental effect.
In a statement, they said that Baghjan oilfield is located right next to the Maguri-Motapung wetland, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known especially for its migratory birds and feral horses.
“The villagers of this area depend on the wetland and the Dangori and Dibru rivers in the Baghjan area as sources of livelihood. The oil spill as seen after 8 days already unleashed an adverse effect on biodiversity of this area. Dense particles or condensates from the blowout have turned the local atmosphere misty, rain-like droplets falling on the vegetation have formed a sticky oily layer,” the statement said.
“Surrounding the affected Baghjan village are the rivers Dangori and Dibru which flows into the Lohit to join the majestic Brahmaputra River. The oil spill will contaminate the rivers all the way to river Brahmaputra. The unique site forms the natural habitat and breeding ground of the highly endangered species including the river dolphin. The month of May is usually the nesting and breeding season for birds and fishes. The wetland, with thick bushes and shrubs on its shores is a paradise for bird watchers and research scholars around the world. In fact, this ecosystem has nurtured a promising industry of eco-tourism and environmental learning with its rich diversity,” it added
The experts and environmentalists said that in the wake of the blowout several endangered birds and fish varieties and a dead carcass of a Gangetic Dolphin was found by locals of the area. “This indicates that there might be many such carcasses floating in inaccessible parts of the location. Since a decade and a half, the oil exploration by OIL and other oil companies has been going on in this highly sensitive zone,” they said.