Protestors being stopped by police
Protestors being stopped by police|EastMojo image

Assam: Protesters march to mass suicide bid at Baghjan blowout well, stopped by police

Baghjan protestors keep Oil India Limited, Tinsukia district administration on toes; march towards oilwell fire site to end life

Rishu Kalantri

Rishu Kalantri

Tinsukia: Hundreds of local villagers displaced by Baghjan oilwell fire marched towards the fire site on Tuesday in an attempt to end their lives, prompting senior administration and police officials to rush to the spot.

The situation worsened after the protestors allegedly broke two barricades before being stopped by security forces around 500 metres short of the well under fire.

The protestors have been camped at Baghjan Dighal Tarang ME School since May 27.

Protestors marching towards the blowout well
Protestors marching towards the blowout well EastMojo image

Talking to this correspondent, Baghjan Goan Milanjyoti Yuva Sangha advisor Hemanto Moran said, "We were left with no option, but to protest, to be heard. The 15-day deadline to accept our 13-charter demands submitted to Oil India Limited chairman and managing director Sushil Chadra Mishra ended yesterday, but the same is yet to be met."

"The protestors decided to march to the well and jump in the fire," Moran said, adding, "We have temporarily suspended our protest after the meeting held with deputy commissioner of Tinsukia Bhaskar Pegu and superintendent of Tinsukia police Shiladitya Chetia at the protest site."

However, the protest will again erupt if our demands are not met, another protestor added.

The demand includes immediate financial assistance of Rs 30 lakh to the affected villagers whose house were gutted, monthly interim compensation till the time situation is brought under control, closure of all wells at Baghjan oil field till compensation is not settled beside others.

Superintendent of Tinsukia police Shiladitya Chetia said that the protestors did not stop at two barricades and headed to the blowout well. "We stopped them around 800 metres before the blowout site which is under fire."

The protestors have called off the protest for the time being following a meeting with the district administration and police, added Chetia.

OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said, we are committed to honour the compensation recommended by district administration after all assessment of impacted families are completed by various government departments. "The 8-membered committee formed by hon’ble NGT will also look into these matters and hear the affected families as well as OIL."

All attempts to speak to deputy commissioner of Tinsukia Bhaskar Pegu and circle officer of Doomdooma turned futile.

The "blowout" occurred at the gas well number 5 at Baghjan oilfield while work over operations was going on to produce gas from new sand (oil and gas bearing reservoir) at a depth of 3,729 metres, leaving natural gas and condensate oil gush to hundred feet of in the air and spill all around. The well caught fire on June 9 and continues to rage.

The fire continues to rage
The fire continues to rage EastMojo image

The OIL operation, meanwhile, again encountered a problem resulting in partial halting of operations, leading to another delay.

Hazarika said, "Long reach excavator driver chamber door glass panel broke while working on well plinth. Efforts are on to replace the glass urgently."

"Excavator was used for removing debris from in and around the blowout well so that main operation can begin without any obstruction from the debris," Hazarika said, adding, that since the excavation work has stopped, debris removal has stopped, which is a major job to finish before operation to cap the well can start.

Broken glass pane of the excavator at the blowout well site
Broken glass pane of the excavator at the blowout well site EastMojo image

OIL has appointed eligible dependents of deceased OIL employees in Baghjan blowout fire, a press release issued by OIL said.

The release added, eligible dependents of OIL's deceased firefighters, Late Tikheswar Gohain and Late Durlov Gogoi have been appointed by OIL on compassionate ground. "Pranab Jyoti Gohain, son of late Tikheswar Gohain, and Purabi Gogoi, wife of Late Durlov Gogoi were handed over the appointment letters by OIL CGM (HR) Rajeev Baruah and OIL ED (HR&A) Prasanta Borkakoty."

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