The National Green Tribunal has imposed an interim penalty of Rs 25 crore on PSU major Oil India over its failure to stop fire in Assam’s Baghjan oil well that is damaging the environment.
Well number 5 at Baghjan in Tinsukia district, has been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 27 days and it caught fire on June 9, killing two of OIL’s firefighters at the site.
A bench comprising Justice S P Wangdi and expert member Siddhanta Das constituted a committee headed by former high court judge B P Katakey to look into the matter and submit a report in 30 days.
“In view of the prima facie case made out against Oil India Ltd on the extent of damage caused to the environment and biodiversity, damage to both human and wildlife, public health and, having regard to the financial worth of the Company and the extent of damage, we direct the OIL to deposit an initial amount of 25 crore with Tinsukia District Magistrate,” the bench said in its order passed on Wednesday.
The order came on a plea filed by activist Bonani Kakkar and others alleging failure of the authorities in preventing the blowout of Baghjan oil well.
The Baghjan oil field has a total of 22 producing wells — 18 crude and four gas. The oil field has been in operation since 2003.
Following the accident, the PCBA (Pollution Control Board of Assam) 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 one week.