National Green Tribunal, Delhi
National Green Tribunal, Delhi
Litigation News

Baghjan Oil Fire: NGT agrees to hear plea alleging suppression by OIL over the classification of well as gas "condensate" well

A gas condensate well is different from a gas well and happens to be more hazardous. The plea alleges that OIL had not classified its well as a gas condensate well despite field studies.

Shruti Mahajan

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Tuesday agreed to hear a plea seeking that a High level committee look into proper classification of gas/gas-condensate/oil wells at the Baghjan oil field in Assam’s Tinsukia.

It was pointed out before the Tribunal that classification of the well will help in the proper assessment of the environmental damage following the recent Baghjan oil fire. It is alleged that there has been suppression by OIL as regards classification of the well that was set ablaze (Soneswara Naraha vs Oil India Ltd).

The NGT, at first inclined to dismiss the case, subsequently agreed to hear this fresh application along with the pending case concerning Baghjan oil fire after it was pointed out that the issue concerning the classification of the well as gas condensate well has not been touched upon in any other matters pending before it. The NGT observed,

“...the learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the Applicant submits that a specific question raised with regard to classification of gas condensate has not been raised in other cases which according to him would be relevant for assessment of the environmental damage and remediation correctly.”

The plea filed before the NGT, in this case, has prayed, among other things, for the constitution of a High-level Committee under the supervision of the NGT to ensure the classification of the well as gas condensate well and to investigate and affix responsibility for all the omissions and commissions leading to the incident of the oil fire in Assam.

A condensate well is different from a gas well, the Tribunal was told. A condensate well happens to be more hazardous, it was submitted.

Despite various field studies conducted on the same, the categorization of the well into a condensate well was not done by OIL, the Senior Counsel representing the applicant activists told the NGT. There are higher protocol requirements when it comes to condensate wells.

In the event of suppression of this categorization of the well on the part of OIL, there will be a substantial bearing on the computation of the environmental damages and the payable compensation, it was argued.

The application also alleges that the Pollution Control Board, that finds a place on a committee constituted by the NGT in its order passed in June to look into the incident, has in fact been “hand in glove” in perpetuating OIL’s “illegalities.” The Pollution Control Board did not monitor the project and turned a blind eye to OIL’s irregularities, it is claimed.

On May 27 this year, a massive blowout took place at one of the gas wells operated by Oil India Ltd. (OIL) in Baghjan in Tinsukia District of Assam as the well leaked gas and gas condensate uncontrollably. On June 9, the blowout turned into a severe blaze and these incidents have led to the displacement of hundreds of people besides causing environmental damage.

The application also points out that the oil well, where the fire continues to be ablaze, is within 10 kilometres distance from a National Park which houses several endangered species of fauna. This National park is rich in biodiversity and this gas leak and gas fire is sure to cause long term damage to the biodiversity of this area.

The applicants were represented by Senior Counsel Prashanto Chandra Sen and the Application was drawn and filed by Advocates Shivank Pratap Singh, Kaustabh Singh, and Nitin Dahiya.

Read Order:

NGT order in Soneswar Naraha vs OIL (Baghjan Oil fire).pdf
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Read Application:

Soneswar Narah vs OIL (Baghjan Oil fire) (Application before NGT).pdf
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