Oil India Limited (OIL) is in the process of abandoning a gas well that blew out and caught fire in the Baghjan Oilfield in Assam’s Tinsukia district after “killing” the well and dousing the blaze that raged for almost six months, but little has been done to address the environmental impact of the disaster that has ravaged one of India’s finest wetlands .
Gas well number 5, which blew out on May 27, spewed copious amounts of condensed oil and gas into the Maguri Motapung wetland and surrounding river tributaries of Dibru and Lohit. Abandoning the well involves plugging the well for good and stopping production from it. The blowout was plugged and fire doused on November 15.
Evidence has emerged from a multidisciplinary committee, appointed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), and headed by Prof Bhagawat Pran Duarah of the department of geological sciences at Gauhati University, that fish and mollusc diversity has declined alarmingly in the Maguri Motapung wetland. The fish have been found to have high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a toxic group of chemicals.
Fishermen have had to stop fishing for three months, and surrounding villages have been soaked by water laced with oil and chemicals, which are likely to leave an impact on the ecologically fragile region in the long term.