Shortly after Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said a group of experts would study tremors reported from the Baghjan region, where last week a leaking gas well caught fire and killed two people, he met with senior scientists at his office in Janata Bhawan today and requested they begin their work on an emergency basis.
Mr Sonowal met with scientists from the prestigious IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) in Guwahati and the CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology.
The Chief Minister had, on Sunday, announced that subject matter experts would inquire into reasons for repeated tremors around the blow out and fire-ravaged areas.
He had been visiting the Baghjan area along with Dharmendra Pradhan, the Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas.
Today, while meeting the scientists, the Chief Minister drew their attention to the importance his government placed on the sanctity of the natural environment and urged them to submit a report to help take appropriate and urgent steps.
While experts from IIT and CSIR-NEIST will lead the study, Oil India Limited (OIL), whose facility it is, will provide all necessary inputs.
Well number 5 at Baghjan had been spewing gas uncontrollably for the last 19 days till it caught fire on the afternoon of June 9. The blaze was so massive it could be seen from over 40 km away and endangered local wildlife and plant life.
The horrific blaze, which is still burning, has led district authorities to request the Army to build a 150 metre-bridge spanning an adjacent water body, so that the main operation of capping the well can be completed as soon as possible.
At present, five inquiries are taking place simultaneously – a three-member probe by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, a one-member probe ordered by the Chief Minister and an internal five-member inquiry by OIL.
Besides, two crucial independent investigations of a technical nature are being carried out by the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and Oil Industry Safety Directorate (OISD).
The Chief Minister has also asked the Additional Principal Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) to study the impact on the environment and ecology of surrounding areas, including flora and fauna in the adjacent Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.