OIL Rejects NGT Report that Declares Baghjan Oil Wells Illegal
GUWAHATI: Oil India Limited (OIL) has summarily rejected all allegations levied on the company by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Committee headed by former judge of the Gauhati High Court, Justice Brojendra Prasad Katakey.
Speaking to G plus exclusively, highly placed officials of OIL stated that the company can prove itself when required.
The NGT Committee set up to investigate the Baghjan well number 5 blowout and its consequences on the surroundings a
nd environment submitted its report on 31st October last. The Committee, apart from slapping a fine of Rs. 131 crores as compensation, stated that the operations of the Baghjan 5 and 22 other oil wells by OIL are illegal as the company does not have the necessary consents from the various authorities to operate the same.
However, a high official of OIL said, “We can contest every point in our favour against their allegations. Firstly, OIL is charged with not having the necessary consent of the Pollution Control Board (PCB). But we have been obtaining necessary permissions from PCB from time to time. Many a time we have also paid the required fees against the consent forms, and have obtained proper permission for the right to continue operations. In some instances, PCB did not provide us with the required documents, but proper permission was given. All activities are done with the PCB’s cognisance.”
“As for environmental clearance (EC), the notification of EC was issued in September 2006, but the Baghjan wells were drilled much before that. We have been drilling in Baghjan for years by then. When the EC rules were implemented in 2006, OIL did get all the clearances from the Forest Ministry. Further, we have also held four public hearings in the area as required. The allegation that we have not taken the consent of the locals is false,” he continued.
The OIL official added, “The mentioned Biodiversity Impact Assessment Study that was to be conducted under orders of the Supreme Court, was actually to be done for the ‘proposed seven new Extended Reach Drilling (ERD) locations’ in Baghjan and not for the existing wells. We stand by these commitments to the EC still. But no work is done with regard to the said ‘proposed’ ERD locations, so there is no question of assessment yet. However, we are constantly in touch with the concerned department. The same will be done when required," he added.
“Most importantly, media has reported that the Pollution Control Board issued a notice to OIL to close all operations in Baghjan after the blowout, which was withdrawn later (within a week). We rightfully had contested the issue with the board and provided all history of our operations in Baghjan and our correspondence with the department. We displayed all fee payments and also provided valid justification on what could not be paid due to PCB’s own issues. As such they had to withdraw the closure notice,” he further added.
However, Tridiv Hazarika, Spokesperson of OIL told G Plus, “The case is currently sub-judice. We will wait for the final verdict of NGT. Oil India Limited will respond officially to the NGT and the court once the final verdict is issued.”
The NGT Committee had reported that “OIL does not have, till date, the required consent to establish and/or consent to operate to either carry out drilling and testing of hydrocarbons in Well Baghjan-5 under the DSNP Area”. The Committee, therefore, recommended that direction be issued to the Pollution Control Board, Assam to take appropriate legal action against OIL and its officials for violation of the mandatory requirements.
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