Gauhati HC Issues Notice to OIL Over Drilling Inside National Park
The Gauhati High Court (GHC) has issued a notice to the Centre, Assam government, Oil India Limited (OIL) and different agencies to file their responses within 2 weeks against the impugned Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification which violates the mandate of public hearing.
It also raised the environmental clearance issues over granting permission to the Public Sector Enterprise (PSU) to drill seven wells inside the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park. The PIL has been fil
ed by Mrinmoy Khataniar, advocate, and mountaineer Amar Jyoti Deka.
The central government's approval to OIL for drilling inside the forest, which is very rich in biodiversity, by amending existing norms like public hearing under the draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020 had also been taken up.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had accorded environmental clearance to OIL for drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, located northwest of Baghjan.
This comes after the BGR 5 well, on May 27, spewed hydrocarbons across a huge radius raining the adjoining villages in Baghjan with associated condensate. The blowout caught fire on 9th June when well control experts from M/S Alert Disaster Control had arrived at the scene to begin work on capping the well. The well is continuing to rage. The fire has caused massive destruction to personal property and the environment.
OIL has not been able to douse the fire even after 5 months and it is expected that the operation may take two to three weeks to “kill” the well.
The locals have protested against OIL and the issue of lack of public hearing has been taken up the by agitators. "3/4 of the population have not accepted the public hearing. None of the indigenous communities and people has accepted it," said Satyajit Moran of the Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Juba Sangha.
He further alleged that OIL was influencing the public hearing. "Baghjangaon is against the oil drilling. They can use others to create public hearing but we won’t allow. All the drilling has been carried out in buffer zone," added Moran.
However, OIL refuted the allegations. "We have done four public hearings and everything has been done as per the norms," said Tridiv Hazarika, OIL spokesperson. He confirmed that OIL is preparing to respond to the PIL.
Meanwhile, on a general point of view, he stated, "We have done nothing against the law. Years back there were not even provisions of public hearings but after that we have done as per the norms."
- Gauhati High Court
- Oil India Limited
- Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification
- Dibru-Saikhowa National Park
- Guwahati News
- Assam News