Stuck between the pandemic and the gas well fire, a child echoing his fear of an uncertain future

A gas well “blowout” at an existing well of Oil India Limited (OIL) in Assam’s Tinsukia district on May 27 had left natural gas leaping out to a height of above 20 feet. This resulted in mass evacuation of the local inhabitants and also the death of various aquatic animals.

The situation turned worse to apocalyptic on June 9, when fire engulfed the entire site. It is seen from a distance of around 40 km. two firefighters died on the spot.

The fire has been rated as Assam’s worst-ever oil well fire in more than a decade, reminding one of the fire at OIL well in Dikom in Dibrugarh in 2005. This a day after three experts from Singapore visited the site of the well blowout at Baghjan and carried out their assessment.

Freelance photographer Diganta Rajkhowa, being in the forefront this disaster captured the unfolding tragedy.

Pre-fire stage (Before June 9)

The kaleidoscopic view of oil in the water is as poisonous as its attractive colors
Maguri-Motapung Beel – a wetland devastated by the falling of oil containing gas particles that were released in the atmosphere
A worker in the OIL gas well with eye irritation due to the constant exposure to noxious fumes (containing oil particles that causes eye and skin irritation)
Locals were asked to evacuate from nearby the gas well to shelters constructed by OIL
An elderly woman with her bare essentials on her way to the camp
Woman with her poultry also taking part in the evacuation
Even the flora of the entire area was covered with a sickly layer of oil type substance
Locals even staged a protest on June 4 against OIL for the ecological and livelihood destruction
Each protesters echoing the pain of loosing their land and livelihood and also fear of their uncertain future
Oil and natural gas seeped into the natural atmosphere for more than a week as experts were being brought from in from Singapore

Post-fire stage (From June 9 onwards)

The tower of fire can be seen from miles away
Locals look from a distance with exasperation as the fire and the spill damages their soil and air
Unable to do anything to save their land they were born and brought up on
Defeated iand alone
Stuck between the pandemic and the gas well fire, a child echoing his fear of an uncertain future
A better view of the devastation
CMD of OIL Sushil Chandra Mishra said that a small spark may have led to the fire which is accidental in nature leading to hellfire that ravages the area even now
An additional four-weeks time is now needed to kill the well and control the fire

Diganta Rajkhowa is an electrical engineer and a freelance photographer who has been in the field of photography since 2010 and has been capturing images for 12 South Asian Games, Indian Super League to name a few. He is a resident of Duliajan and can be reached out in his email @digantarajkhowa@gmail.com

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