A team of scientists from Assam Agricultural University who visited the Baghjan area in Tinsukia district, where an Oil India Limited’s oil well got engulfed in flames recently, found widespread damage to crops in the surrounding villages.
The oil well began spewing black methane gas on May 27 before bursting into flames on June 9, the day the assessment was taking place.
Vice chancellor (in charge) of Assam Agricultural University Dr Ashok Bhattacharjee said the team of three scientists from University, had visited the Baghjan-5, Oil & Natural Gas Well, blowout area of Tinsukia district on June 9 to witness the effect that the spewing gas from the oil well had on the cultivated crops, as per invitation received from the OIL field headquarters at Duliajan.
The team visited the homesteads within 300 m distance of the gushing well to have an idea about the damage to the agricultural crops and the vegetation.
The scientists reported that the impact of spewing gas and condensate was evident on pseudostems of banana plants which were snapped at the middle, citrus plants were seen drying down from the top while the tea bushes in the entire area appeared to have severe burn out symptom.
Bhattacharjee said as per their report leaves of areca nut, bamboo and other horticultural crops had a desiccated appearance.
Soil and water bodies of the affected area were covered with deposits that have come out from the well.
Samples of plant, soil and water were collected, and while the team was moving to the other side in a round-about way the huge fire broke out in the well and the visit had to be suspended.
“The damage to the crops will be more prominent after few days and since the blaze is still on, the actual assessment in the surrounding area will be done when normalcy is restored after the well is capped,” Bhattacharjee said.