The fire affected villagers blocked the road leading towards the Baghjan oil well blowout site for an indefinite period in protest against the delay in the payment of compensation.

The blockade was launched under the banner of Baghjan Gaon Yuba Milanjyoti Sangha.

The ongoing works of OIL at Baghjan have been affected due to the blockade.

Oil India Limited (OIL) has successfully diverted the gas and condensate to Baghjan EPS after several unsuccessful attempts.

The agitated villagers staged the protest on the road on Thursday by making a makeshift camp for pressurising the authorities to release the compensation.

“Despite several pleas, the Tinsukia district administration has not released the compensation to the affected villagers. We are protesting for several days near Tinsukia DC office but nobody is bothered to solve our problem,” said Tiknajyoti Hazarika, a youth from Baghjan.

Many people have lost their cropland, houses and other essential utensils in the massive fire which caught at Baghjan no 5 oil well on June 9.

“The fire has brought miseries for our people because it devastated everything in the village. Many of them lost their tea gardens because of continuous spewing of condensates into the village,” said Komol Baruah, a villager of Baghjan.

“The entire bio-diversity of Baghjan and its surrounding areas has been affected due to pollution. Many people are still staying at relief camps as their houses were damaged in the fire,” Baruah said.

On June 24, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) set up a committee, headed by former Gauhati High Court Judge Justice BP Katakey for compensation of affected people of Baghjan due to fire.

Three categories have been created: Rs 25 lakh for families whose houses were completely destroyed, Rs 10 lakh for houses severely damaged and Rs 2.5 lakh for moderately damaged houses.

“We are seeking compensation under two categories which is Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakh because most of the people have lost their property due to the inferno. Our domestic animals died in fire and our utensils were completely damaged,” said Satyajit Moran, president, Baghjan Gaon Yuba Milanjyoti Sangha.

Meanwhile, OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said a total 2,756 families were surveyed.

“We have given away Rs 20 lakh compensation to 12 families whose houses were fully damaged due to fire at Baghjan oil well site. We have also paid Rs 9 crore to Tinsukia deputy commissioner for immediate financial relief to around 3000 families,” he said.

“The Tinsukia district administration has not submitted us the full assessment report till now. How can we release compensation?”

On Sunday, OIL in their second attempt successfully diverted the gas, which is spewing from the Baghjan no 5 oil well to Early Production Unit (EPS) and the flare pit.

The diversion of gas was crucial to reduce the surface level pressure of the Baghjan well before the final well killing attempt can be carried out.

As per the plan a certain amount of gas was diverted to the Baghjan EPS (Early Production System) situated 4-km away through two pipelines while the excessive gas was diverted to two nearby excavated flare pits also through pipelines.

Avik Chakraborty

Avik Chakraborty is Northeast Now Correspondent in Dibrugarh. He can be reached at: babs8oct@gmail.com