Need to be more sensible: Sonowal on PCBA”s closure order to OIL

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Posted in Assam, Featured

Two days after the Assam pollution control board ordered the Oil India Limited (OIL) to close all its production and drilling operations at the Baghjan oilfield, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday said authorities need to be “more sensible” and that he will look into the matter.

The PSU major has already announced that it will move the Gauhati High Court on Monday for a stay of the closure notice, if they do not receive a favourable reply from the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA).

“We need to be more sensible,” Sonowal said at a press conference here when asked about the PCBA”s ”closure notice” issued to OIL on June 19.

Mentioning that he had not yet read the PCBA document, he said, “I will look into the matter.”

The chief minister said, his government”s prime concern at the moment is the blaze that is continuing since June 9 following the blowout on May 27, and helping the people who are suffering.

Asked specifically if the state government supports the PCBA”s decision asking the OIL to close all its wells in Baghjan area of Tinsukia district, Sonowal said, “A lot of industries right from thermal power plant in Namrup, Assam Gas Company, Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited and all tea gardens in upper Assam are completely dependent on the OIL.”

The Baghjan oil field has a total of 22 producing wells — 18 for crude, four for gas. The oil field has been in operation since 2003.

Well Number 5 at Baghjan has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 26 days. It caught fire on June 9, killing two of OIL”s firefighters at the site.

Following the accident, the PCBA sent a show cause notice to the energy major on June 10 seeking details of its operations in Baghjan in the last 15 years, within a week.

Citing a number of violations by the PSU major, the PCBA issued the “closure notice” alleging that the company did not obtain required permission from PCBA for the Baghjan oil fields, but OIL categorically denied it and claimed it has “PCBA”s consent” for all its operations in the state.

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