In yet another environmental disaster, crude oil leaking from an underground pipeline of the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has spilt across a large stretch of farmland at Sivasagar district in upper Assam, the Times of India reported.
The breach took place in a pipeline at Borpathar, located between two Mesagarh and Molagaon villages in the Nazira sub-division. ONGC’s Nazira office has sent people to the spot to plug the leakage. The farmers in the area first spotted the leakage and notified the administration on Friday.
However, a large amount of crude oil has spilt over and affected around 20 bighas of paddy farmland, according to the TOI report. The spilt oil also runs the risk of catching fire.
Nazira sub-divisional officer (SDO) Sabyasachi Kashyap told TOI that they asked the ONGC office to cut off the crude oil flow through the affected pipeline on being intimated about the leakage. But before that, a substantial oil spill had already taken place. The pipeline runs under 1000 bighas of farmland in the area, the SDO said.
“The pipeline passes under a vast 1,000-bigha field and out of that around 20 bighas have been affected. A thick and blackish layer of oil has formed above the paddy fields. We have been told that the pipeline was quite old. The leak may have occured due to regular wear and tear but we are not ruling out the possibility of sabotage by oil thieves,” Kashyap told TOI.
Informing that the affected farmers will be compensated by the ONGC, Kashyap said that revenue and irrigation department officials had already reached the area to assess the extent of damages.
Meanwhile, locals are afraid that the oil spill would significantly affect the local ecology as well as the soil. They fear that some of the spilt oil has also flowed to the neighbouring Dimow river with rainwater. Wary of such disasters having a massive ecological impact, especially after the Baghjan oilfield fire that raged on for a long time, the locals in the area are apprehending a repetition.
A blow-out took place on May 27 last year from Baghjan oil well, managed by Oil India, damaging the entire biodiversity of the Dibru Saikhowa National Park and the Maguri-Motapung Wetland. The fire raged on for over 170 days at the oil well and also left two firefighters dead.