TODAY -

NHRC registered Case to investigate Oil Spill at Baghjan, Assam

June 18th 2020 :



National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has registered a Case No: 93/3/17/2020 to investigate against the Oil Spill caused by OIL at Baghjan, Assam.

Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) have submitted a complaint on the 12th of June, 2020 requesting the NHRC for its urgent intervention on Impacts of Oil Spill caused by Oil India Limited at Baghjan, Assam which is causing serious threat to human, animals, biodiversity, flora and fauna, livelihood etc.

In the complaint there are few area of urgent attention cited as under:

o Request the NHRC to initiate an independent investigation against the OIL for its failure and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for providing environment clearance besides knowing the fact that the area is located within the wildlife century.

o Direct the Government of Assam to provide proper rehabilitation and compensation of the Villagers Impacted by the Oil Spill to restore their livelihood and health.

o Direct the Government of Assam to urgently clean up the village areas, water bodies and air contaminated by the Oil Spill

o OIL should be held accountability for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity. An investigation should be pursued to prosecute responsible officials.

o Direct the Oil India Limited to immediately stop further oil exploration and drilling in Assam and across India’s North East which is Eco-sensitive and fragile biodiversity zones.

In connection with the complaint filed on the 12th of June, 2020, the NHRC has registered a case bearing Case Number: 93/3/17/2020 on the 16th of June, 2020.

(Kh Phajaton)
Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR)

Annexure: A Copy of the Complaint filed before the NHRC.

YOUTH’S FORUM FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
PALACE COMPOUND WEST, IMPHAL EAST – 795001
E-mail: youthforum.humanrights@gmail.com
Ref. no. 303/06/ 2020/A Date: 12/06/2020

To,

The Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi

Subject: Request for Urgent intervention on Impacts of Oil Spill caused by Oil India Limited at Baghjan, Assam which is causing serious threat to human, animals, biodiversity, flora and fauna, livelihood etc.

Sir / Madam,

Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) would like to draw your urgent attention to the deadly oil spill at Baghjan village, under Hapjan Block, Tinsukia District of Assam by Oil India Limited on 27th May 2020 till date and to express our concerns with the adverse and irreparable environmental and social impacts due to the oil spill. Following are the facts which we would like to lay down for your kind consideration and action at the earliest.

1) On 27th of May, around 10.30 AM, a major blowout, or an uncontrolled release of natural gas was reported at the Baghjan Oilfield of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Tinsukia district of Assam. The oil well exploded in a fountain of crude oil after reported failure of the pressure control systems. The oil spill continues since the exploration on 27th May, as the OIL officials and technicians failed to control the oil spill till date.

2) The Baghjan Oilfield is located just 500 meters to the Maguri-Motapung wetland which is, part of the eco-sensitive zone of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, known especially for its migratory birds and feral horses. The villagers also depend on the Wetland and the Rivers in the Baghjan area for fishing and for sources of livelihood. The oil spill has had an adverse effect on biodiversity, especially this is because an eco-sensitive zone.

The month of May is usually the nesting and breeding season for birds and fishes. Dibru Saikhowa National Park (DSNP) and Maguri Motapung Beel is a home to 36 species of mammals and 382 species of birds. Maguri Beel, classified as an Important Bird Area (IBA) on the other hand is known for its avian and aquatic fauna and is a favorites of birders. Locals found a carcass of a Gangetic dolphin, declared as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with its skin peeled in the Maguri wetland. Several endangered birds and fish varieties were dead in the two wetlands.

3) The Baghjan village, inhabited by 1785 people has been affected at least 2,000 people in a 1.5-km radius from the oil well have been shifted to relief camps reportedly. People began fleeing from the village; some to their friends and relatives and some took shelter in the village school premises. It would be around 1610 (approx. no assessment has been done so far) families that have taken shelter in the school. But after a night of horror, some became eager to return to their homes as the sanitary condition in the relief camp was not hygienic and up to the mark.

4) On the day of the oil spill, villagers in the vicinity of the drilling site at prime oil well (BGR No 5), heard series of booming metallic sound erupting from a dysfunctional oil pipe. The residents first thought it to be the sound of a jet plane or helicopter in the sky. Their first assumption was that a minister might have come monitor the flood situation in the area. However, they soon heard the sound of a massive blowout from the oil-well, after which the well has been spilling oil into the atmosphere.

5) Villagers of Baghjan village also reported that a great flame, burning continuously prior to this incident already caused big problems for the villagers, due to which, decline in rate of pollination and migratory birds losing their routes or falling dead at the flame was common. For long, villagers complained of headache, dizziness, irritation of eyes, skins, and nasal passages.

6) Since a decade and a half, the oil exploration by OIL and other oil companies has been going on in this highly sensitive zone. To tap the oil and gas resources, OIL came up with a so-called state of the art technology called Extended Reach Drill. The ERD was glorified to be a safe technology reiterating that it is used ‘extensively to intersect hydrocarbon targets far from the surface.’ (4 kms approx. from the existing drilling well plinth) As such, oil exploration can be done without entering a protected area like the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, however, ERD has been observed as a failure.

7) In an environmental clearance issued by the MoEFCC, OIL was appraised of the conditions to be enforced under the provisions of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) act, 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act,1981; Environment(Protection) Act,1986; Hazardous Waste Management Rules, 2016, Public Liability Insurance Act,1991 and any orders passed by Hon’ble Supreme Court, High Court of Assam and any other Court of Law relating to subject matter. However, OIL has failed to comply with a major chunk of conditions as accorded in the Environment Clearance Report.

8) Further, OIL, was required to take adequate measures to prevent spillage of hazardous wastes into the water bodies through designated drains and treatment facilities and further to proven measures to mitigate oil spilling and fire hazards. Further, para xviii of the Environment Clearance Report directs the company to install blow-out prevention system to avoid accidents during drilling. The May 27 blow incident testifies the failure of the precautionary measures.

9) The Oil India Limited unleashed human rights violations by contaminating the land and water bodies and by denying the livelihood of communities depending on Rivers and wetlands. The OIL company denies safety to its own workers, denied safety to the residents, and committed loss of acclaimed mammal like Gangetic Dolphin and killed several endemic aquatic species. Continued oil exploration across Assam and India’s North East will intensify climate change.

10) On June 10, bodies of two fire-fighters, both of whom were employees of OIL were recovered from a pond near the site by National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) which is yet another failure by the Oil India Ltd to protect its worker.

11) It further could be observed that the OIL failed to comply with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and also failed to respect the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007.

We would like to lay down few area of urgent attention:

o Request the NHRC to initiate an independent investigation against the OIL for its failure and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for providing environment clearance besides knowing the fact that the area is located within the wildlife century.

o Direct the Government of Assam to provide proper rehabilitation and compensation of the Villagers Impacted by the Oil Spill to restore their livelihood and health.
o Direct the Government of Assam to urgently clean up the village areas, water bodies and air contaminated by the Oil Spill
o OIL should be held accountability for social impacts and irreparable loss of biodiversity. An investigation should be pursued to prosecute responsible officials.
o Direct the Oil India Limited to immediately stop further oil exploration and drilling in Assam and across India’s North East which is Eco-sensitive and fragile biodiversity zones.
We, therefore, request the Hon’ble Commission to kindly consider the aforementioned facts and the points and appropriate action be taken at the earliest in the best interest of the public and society.

Your kind concern and cooperation will be highly appreciated.

(Kh Phajaton)


* This Press Release was sent to e-pao.net by Youth’s Forum for Protection of Human Rights (YFPHR) who can be contacted at youthforum(DOT)humanrights(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This Press Release was posted on 19 June 2020

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