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Ethnic bodies flay OIL for failure to cap Baghjan gas well

 DOOMDOOMA, June 22 - A huge delegation of over 30 students and other ethnic organisations under the leadership of the All Moran Students’ Union (AMSU) president Arunjyoti Moran and secretary Naba Moran visited Baghjan on Sunday and took stock of the plight of the people affected by the gas well disaster. The delegation which included the AASU, AJYCP, ATTSA, AJYP and members of the Chutia, Deori, Dimasa, Hajong, Mech-Kachari, Bodo, Tangsa, Koch-Rajbongshi, Gorkha, Bengali, Bhojpuri and several other ethnic communities interacted with the affected people taking shelter in various relief camps.

 Later, addressing a press conference at Kordoiguri, the leaders of these organisations criticised the OIL, one of the ‘Navaratna’ companies of the country, for its alleged failure to douse the fire and cap the gas well even after 25 days. They alleged that the original people of the locality were forced to leave their homes and hearths and lead lives like refugees in relief camps in the most unhygienic conditions. Amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic, no protocols laid down by the Health department of the government have been followed in these relief camps, they alleged. The leaders of these organisations demanded that the OIL authority redress the public grievances through fair and adequate compensation. They also welcomed the closure notice issued by the State Pollution Control Board, Assam on the Baghjan Oilfield which is situated near a biodiversity hotspot.

The organisations later sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister through the Deputy Commissioner of Tinsukia district stating that the gas blowout and fire in the BGR-5 of Baghjan Oilfield of OIL had become a serious issue concerning the safety of public life and property of the communities in the immediate vicinity in particular and in the entire oilfield areas of the Upper Assam belt, and that, this had caused great damage and had a hazardous impact on the pristine ecosystem and wildlife.

The student bodies in their memorandum alleged that OIL had knowingly or unknowingly flaunted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, 2007. The organisations, therefore, urged the Prime Minister to take immediate necessary measures to mitigate the grievances caused by this tragic man-made disaster and thereby to build up a sustainable yet dynamic preventive mechanism for the future. A brief humanitarian impact analysis of the disaster and environmental damage analysis was included in the memorandum besides a 15- point charter of demands for compensation.

The copies of the memorandum were also sent to the Assam Chief Minister, Union Ministers of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the chairmen of National Disaster Management Authority, National Green Tribunal, National Human Rights Commission, State Pollution Control Board, Assam and to the CMD of OIL India Limited.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the State BJP led by Mangaldai MP Dilip Saikia and State BJP secretary Pulak Gohain visited Baghjan on Sunday and took stock of the situation.

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