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NGT expert panel report finds major lapses by OIL
 DOOMDOOMA, July 31 - The preliminary report of the expert panel constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to look into the Baghjan gas well blowout and subsequent inferno has uncovered major lapses of the Oil India Limited (OIL) including lack of planning, execution and supervision of critical operations. The company did not even have the mandatory consent to operate and establish drilling operations, the report says.

 The blowout occurred on May 27 and was followed by an inferno on June 9 at the BGR-5 of OIL in Baghjan under Doomdooma Revenue Circle in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam. The committee was constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on June 24 with Justice BP Kotoky, a former Judge of the Gauhati High Court, as the Chairperson and seven other members representing the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB); Assam State PCB; Council of Scientific and Industrial research (CSIR) and Tinsukia District Magistrate. The panel also had as members Sarbeswar Kalita, Professor and Head of the Department of Environment Science, Gauhati University; Abhay Kumar Johari, IFS (Retired), Former Member, Biodiversity Board; Ajit Hazarika, ex-Chairman, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The 406 page report said, “There was deficiency in understanding of the gravity of a critical operation like removal of BOP without having a confirmed and tested secondary safety barrier. There was deficiency in proper planning of critical operations. There was a clear mismatch between planning and its execution at site and deviations from the Standard Operating Procedure.”

The report also added that there were serious deficiencies of proper level of supervision of critical operation at the well site both from the contractor as well as from Oil India Ltd.

“On the day of the blowout of Well Baghjan-5 i.e. 27.05.2020 and subsequent explosion on 09.06.2020, OIL did not have the mandatory Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate both under Section 25 & 26 of the Water (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, under Section 21 of the Air (Prevention & Control of Pollution) Act and the Rules framed thereunder and/or the authorisation Rule 6 of the Hazardous Waste (Management, Handling and Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016,” the report noted.

The report has also found that OIL, till date, does not have the required Consent to Establish and Consent to Operate to carry our drilling and testing of hydrocarbons in Well Baghjan-5 under the DSNP Area, except for the years 2008-09, 2012-13, 2018-19 under the above Acts. This, according to the expert panel, is in clear violation of the conditions stipulated in the Environmental Clearance granted in May 2020.

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