A team of army engineers carrying out recce near the fire site

Tinsukia: As the gas well fire of the Oil India Limited (OIL) continued on Monday, the public sector giant sought the help of Indian Army to lay down a pontoon bridge close to the well blowout site at Baghjan in Assam’s Tinsukia district.

“The pontoon bridge, of a length of around 150 metres to be laid in the Northeast direction, will play a very crucial role in the operations to control the well and douse the fire,” sources told this correspondent.

A pontoon bridge, also known as a floating bridge, uses floats or shallow-draft boats to support a continuous deck for pedestrian and vehicle travel. The buoyancy of the supports limits the maximum load they can carry. Most pontoon bridges are temporary, used in wartime to ferry troops and movement of tanks and civil emergencies.

Confirming the development, chairman and managing director of OIL, Sushil Chandra Mishra, said, “We had requested the Army to lay a pontoon bridge as well as lay a pipeline underneath water.”

Sources told this correspondent that the bridge will be moved in a convoy of more than two dozen vehicles. “The transportation is about to start from a discreet location. It will take 24 hours’ time for army to lay the bridge once it arrives in parts,” said sources.

OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said that with the blowout well catching fire, situation has become quite challenging, compelling them to bring a shift in their strategy. “The pontoon bridge is required for two purposes – to lay the water pipeline and displace the existing pipeline from the reservoir to the blowout well and act as an escape route,” he said.

In case any untoward incident happens once the operation to kill the well starts, the bridge will play a very important role in the safety of all men involved in the operations. “The Army has the necessary expertise to lay the pontoon bridge, hence we approached the Army through district administration for help and they were kind enough to help us in a timely manner,” he added.

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Members of engineering regiment of the army conducting supervision of the area near the fire site

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“The constant requirement of water is a key element for the success of the operation,” Hazarika said, adding: “”IL has already laid a pipeline from Dangori River to a new water reservoir built close to the blowout well and another pipeline from reservoir to the blowout well.”

“However, with June 9 fire incident, the pipeline from the reservoir to the blowout site needs to be displaced and the bridge will be important to displace the pipeline. If situation demands, the pipeline might be lifted and placed on top of the bridge,” Hazarika added.

It will take 24 hours’ time for the Army to lay the bridge once the bridge arrives in parts

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According to sources, on Monday a special team of army have carried out recce of the place for laying the pipeline. “The army has handed over the task to its engineering regiment,” source said.

The sources said, “The minimum requirement of water level to lay the bridge is 1.8 metres. A recce has been carried out and soon the bridge will be laid.”

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