• Baghjan oil incident: Supreme Court removes Assam Chief Secretary from 10-member panel

    Baghjan oil incident: Supreme Court removes Assam Chief Secretary from 10-member panel

    Tinsukia: In a recent development in the Baghjan oil incident, the Supreme Court has removed Assam Chief Secretary and Oil India Limited managing director from a 10-member panel set up by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Monday.

    Reportedly, the apex court reinstated former Gauhati High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey to lead a five-member committee to evaluate the ecological damage caused by the Baghjan oil blow in 2020.

    The apex court dismissed OIL’s objection to Katakey as chairman of the committee that will evaluate and propose measures to restore the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and surrounding ecologically fragile areas in the Tinsukia district of Assam, which were affected.

    Justice Katakey as chairperson, the new committee will comprise Qamar Qureshi, a professor with the Wildlife Institute of India; Ritesh Kumar, director of the Wetlands International South Asia; Bedanga Bordoloi, a soil expert and G.S. Dang, a petroleum expert.

    An inquiry report of Baghjan prepared by a senior forest official revealed in June 2021 that the Baghjan blowout that lasted for over five months in the natural gas well owned by OIL left serious destruction on the ecology, besides causing damage of approximately Rs 25,000 crore to the environment and biodiversity in and around Baghjan in Tinsukia district.

    The report named “Report on damages to Environment, Biodiversity, Wildlife, forest & Ecology on account of Blowout and Explosion at OIL Well number BGN-5, Baghjan, Tinsukia.” is prepared by the inquiry committee headed by the Additional principal chief conservator of forest and chief wildlife warden Mahendra Kumar Yadava.

    The report stated, “The situation come to be because the environment clearance provided by the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change to these projects clearly stated that there were no national parks and wildlife sanctuaries within 10 km of the projects sites.”

    According to the report, the Supreme Court asks the committee to begin its work expeditiously and submit an interim report within a month on the remedial compensation OIL will have to pay.

    Moreover, the court directed OIL to pay for the committee’s expenses.

    In July Supreme Court stayed the NGT order while observing that it will transgress the principles and natural justice if the managing director of Oil India Limited (OIL) becomes a member of a committee in any case related to Assam’s Baghjan blowout incident.