Gas well blowout: Villagers clash with police for compensation

Protesters claim paddy fields are rendered unproductive, ponds contaminated

Published - July 24, 2021 09:40 pm IST - GUWAHATI

The Baghjan gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district after the firefighting operation. File

The Baghjan gas well in Assam’s Tinsukia district after the firefighting operation. File

At least six people were injured when scores of people from Baghjan village in eastern Assam’s Tinsukia district clashed with the security forces on Saturday demanding compensation for damages caused by a natural gas well blowout more than a year ago.

The Well No. 5 in the Bahgjan Oilfield operated by the Oil India Limited had caught fire less than a fortnight after the blowout on May 27, 2020. Foreign experts could kill the well after 173 days. By that time, three OIL employees and some birds and aquatic animals in the adjoining Maguri-Motapung wetland had died.

The protesters claimed large swathes of paddy fields were rendered unproductive and ponds too contaminated for aquatic life. They said at least six people got injured when the security forces resorted to cane-charge to disperse the crowd.

“We have paid a compensation amount of almost ₹103 crore according to the guidelines of the National Green Tribunal,” an OIL official said.

He also said a group of villagers had taken over expensive equipment of OIL and other firms after the Baghjan well was officially abandoned on December 3, 2020. The security forces had gone to retrieve the equipment when the villagers resisted leading to the clashes.

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