The affected villagers of the fire and gas leakage from the oil well at Baghjan in eastern Assam have launched an indefinite road blockade on September 17 demanding compensation, as per reports. The villagers, who have also been protesting in front of the deputy commissioner’s office in Tinsukia for the last 21 days, launched the blockade on the road to the Baghjan Early Production Setup under the banner of the Baghjan Gaon Yuba Milanjyoti Sangha.
Following the blockade, the ongoing works of the state-run Oil India Limited at Baghjan have been affected. The villagers, who have set up makeshift camps on the road, claim that despite the fire raging at the oil well for over three months, they are still facing delays in payment of compensation.
“Despite several pleas, the Tinsukia district administration has not released the compensation to the affected villagers. We are protesting for several days near Tinsukia DC office but nobody is bothered to solve our problem,” said Tiknajyoti Hazarika, a youth from Baghjan, was quoted as saying in a report by Northeast Now. The report added that the villagers have claimed to have lost tea gardens and suffered huge damage to property. “The entire bio-diversity of Baghjan and its surrounding areas has been affected due to pollution. Many people are still staying at relief camps as their houses were damaged in the fire,” Komol Baruah, a resident of Baghjan told Northeast Now.
According to the committee set up by the National Green Tribunal for compensation of affected people, three categories have been created: Rs 25 lakh for families whose houses were completely destroyed, Rs 10 lakh for houses severely damaged and Rs 2.5 lakh for moderately damaged houses.
“We are seeking compensation under two categories which is Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh because most of the people have lost their property due to the inferno. Our domestic animals died in fire and our utensils were completely damaged,” said Satyajit Moran, president, Baghjan Gaon Yuba Milanjyoti Sangha.
As per reports, OIL officials have said that 2,756 families were surveyed in all. "We have given Rs 20 lakh as compensation to 12 families whose houses were fully damaged due to the fire of Baghjan oil well. The company had also paid Rs 9 crore to Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner for financial aid to around 3,000 affected families. The Tinsukia district administration has not submitted us the full assessment report till now then how can we release compensation," a senior OIL official told IANS. The official further added that the compensation to the affected families was given as per the directives of National Green Tribunal.
The natural gas and condensate in the oil well which had started leaking over three months back on May 27 had caught fire on June 9. OIL had finally successfully diverted the gas and condensate to Baghjan EPS, around 550 km east of Guwahati, earlier in September.
"The natural gas of the well number five at Baghjan has been diverted partly into production and partly flared in two flare pits. The main aim of this operation is to reduce well head pressure of the blowout well which will help in next action for killing the well. The oil well fire and gas leakage is largely controlled, and it would take some more time to fully control the situation. Foreign experts, firefighters and OIL engineers are working on a war footing to control the situation," OIL spokesman and Deputy General Manager Tridiv Hazarika told reporters.
Hazarika said with the purpose of reducing the surface-level well head pressure of the blowout well number five at Baghjan, the process for restoration of diversion of flow of gas from the well head to Baghjan EPS and two flare pits was successfully implemented earlier this week.
He said the operation was carried out after foreign experts and OIL engineers completed the checking and inspection of the wellhead and safety inspection along with specific job safety analysis of entire system on Saturday.