A massive fire has engulfed a natural-gas producing well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in upper Assam’s Tinsukia district, that has been leaking gas for the last 14 days. Sources say the fire, that began this afternoon, may spread to adjoining areas.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has spoken to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan after the fire started. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been deployed in the area since the time of the gas leak and top officials of Assam are also reviewing the situation.
‘Well killing’ experts had also been flown in from Singapore on Monday and they had joined operations this morning, sources said.
— ANI (@ANI) June 9, 2020
The oil well at Baghjan Tinsukia, about 500 kilometres from Guwahati, had a blowout on May 27 and has been leaking gas for the past 14 days, causing grave damage to the region’s wetlands and biodiversity.
Images shared by locals on social media show gas condensate depositing in the Maguri Beel wetland, carcasses of endangered Gangetic dolphins and other aquatic life floating in the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, barely three kilometres from the oil field.
Paddy fields, ponds and wetlands in the adjoining villages have also been contaminated and the threat is growing with every passing day. Several small tea growers in the area have also complained about layers of gas condensates in their tea gardens.
At least 6,000 people living in a 1.5-km radius of the natural gas producing well have been evacuated and placed in relief camps. Oil India Limited has also announced financial relief of Rs 30,000 to each to the affected families.