After Assam oilfield fire, a central agency sought a review of environmental clearances to Oil India

In the wake of the fire and resulting ecological catastrophe at the Baghjan oilfield in Assam, the Wildlife Institute of India called for a reassessment of the environmental clearance granted to Oil India Limited in April for drilling 18 wells and laying gas pipelines in this area, a report obtained under a Right to Information request shows.

Wildlife Institute of India is an autonomous body under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The report, finalised in mid-July, is part of an assessment mandated by the National Green Tribunal following the blowout of one of Oil India Limited’s wells in Baghjan, in Assam’s Tinsukia district, on May 27, which went on to catch fire on June 9. The fire was doused on September 13. A “blowout” is an uncontrolled release of oil and/or gas caused by failures in pressure control systems.

The report highlights two major shortcomings of companies operating oil and gas wells in Assam: poor management of oil spills from wells, and poor emergency response readiness and effectiveness with respect to major accidents.

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