Assam: Baghjan blowout well victim ends life; protesters block roads to site
Tinsukia: A 45-year-old fish farmer, one of the victims of the Baghjan blowout well camping at a relief camp in Assam's Tinsukia district, ended his life for alleged mental harassment caused due to the incident and the delay in finalising compensation.
The incident later triggered a massive protest where all the exit routes to the blowout well were blocked, as a result of which, around 40 officials including the global experts are stuck at the well site.
The deceased has been identified as Sukleswar Neog; he is survived by his wife and five daughters.
Talking to this correspondent, Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Yuva Sangha president Satyajit Moran said, "We found Neog lying on the road, around 300 metres from Baghjan Dighal Tarang ME School."
"There is no point in living such a life, it's better to die -- those were his last words before he was rushed to the hospital," added Moran.
Moran said that Oil India Limited (OIL) and Assam government are solely responsible for his death. "We demand an immediate compensation of Rs 2 crore for the victim's family and OIL has to take responsibility of his family," he added.
"It's 53 days, OIL has failed to control the blowout, leading to a situation where victims are driven to suicide under immense mental stress," said Moran, adding, we kept patience for 53 long days and supported them. "Our patience has run dry and we have blocked the two roads leading to Baghjan EPS from Tinsukia side. The blockade will be cleared only after compensation to all affected families is settled once and for all immediately," he said.
The protesters blocked all the exit routes -- the road leading through Koliapani bridge and Kordoigiri -- for the officials working at the well site to douse the inferno at the Baghjan blowout well. These include crisis management team from OIL and ONGCL and six global experts from Canadian based company Alert Damage Control.
The "blowout" occurred at the gas well number 5 at Baghjan oilfield while work over operations was 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.
A protestor said that the Assam government and OIL are such a disgrace. "Our people are forced to commit suicide. We had repeatedly requested them to complete the assessment of compensation quickly, but they have taken us for a toss, leaving us with no option but to sit on roads," he said.
"We warn the state government and OIL to announce compensation for all affected families today itself or else face the protest," he added.
Meanwhile, Tinsukia SP Shiladitya Chetia said that as per preliminary investigation, the person allegedly committed suicide. "He was rushed to a local nursing home in Doomdooma from where he was taken to Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh for treatment where he passed away," he said.
An inquest has been made and post-mortem is underway as we speak, added Chetia.
Although no suicide note has been found, Chetia said that the incident is allegedly linked to Baghjan blowout well and is part of investigation.
Chetia added that a case is being registered.
"We are feeling sad and are with the grief stricken family," OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said.
Hazarika said that the joint assessment along with the team of district administration is underway despite all challenges. "A survey of total 1,722 household has been completed for the purpose of compensation," he said.
"The protestors has blocked all the exit routes for are men working at the well as a result around 40 officials including global expert are stuck at the well site amid the inclement weather," Hazarika said, adding: "We have requested the deputy commissioner of Tinsukia and superintendent of Tinsukia police Chetia to speak to the protestors, rescue the officials stuck and organise a meeting with the villagers tomorrow to sort out the matter."
Earlier, the Sangha had submitted a 13-point charter of demands to OIL chairman and managing director Sushil Chandra Mishra.
The demands included stopping the gas and oil spill immediately, restoring the nature by undoing the damage caused to it, a hospital for villagers and animal, and husbandary besides compensation to the affected persons and till then suspension of all operation under Baghjan EPS.
Several rounds of closed-door meetings happened between district administration, OIL officials and Sangha members over the issue of compensation and demands, but they failed to yield any outcome, leaving the victims, who lost everything and are forced to stay in relief camps, to struggle for their livelihood and compensation and sit on the road amid rainfall and pandemic for their rights, sources claimed.
The district administration of Tinsukia distributed cheques regarding compensation of Rs 20 lakh each to the 11 families whose houses were gutted by the fire in the Baghjan blowout well.