The protest, staged by the Baghjan fire-affected people near the office of the Tinsukia commissioner seeking compensation, entered the second day on Tuesday.

The villagers, led by Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Yuba Sangha, have built a tent terming it a ‘relief camp’ as a ‘symbolic protest’ to pressurize the authorities to fulfil demand.

“Our house was damaged during the Baghjan fire and since then we are taking shelter at the relief camp. Our condition has become bad to worse as it has been very tough to live in a relief camp for so long,” said a villager.

“We have not received any compensation till date. We demand the Tinsukia district administration to release the compensation immediately,” the villager added.

A blowout occurred in the well of the Oil India Ltd (OIL) at Baghjan on May 27 and it caught fire on June 9, which is yet to be doused.

OIL spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika said, “We have given Rs 20 lakh to 11 families whose houses were fully damaged in the Baghjan fire.”

“We have also released Rs 11 crore to the Tinsukia district administration for immediate financial help of the families.

“A total of 2,756 families were surveyed. But we have not received the complete assessment report from the Tinsukia district administration. After receiving the proper assessment report, we will release the compensation,” Hazarika said.

Satyajit Moran, president of Baghjan Gaon Milanjyoti Yuba Sangha, said, “We are camping here since Monday seeking compensation.”

“The Tinsukia district administration has assured us to pay the compensation on August 6 but till date, the villagers have not received the compensation.

“We have launched the ‘symbolic protest’ to pressurise the authorities to fulfil our demand. On Monday evening, Tinsukia deputy commissioner met us but didn’t say anything about the compensation,” Moran added.

“National Green Tribunal has ordered to provide compensation according to the categories. The NGT has asked public sector company OIL to deposit Rs 25 crore for the damages caused,” said Nirantar Gohain, an environment activist.

“The NGT has ordered to provide compensation as per their rule,” Gohain added.

Gohain further said the entire biodiversity of Baghjan and its surrounding areas have been affected by the blowout.

“The Maguri-Motapung beel (wetland) has been affected due to the continuous spewing of gas and condensate from the affected site. Due to the blowout, the entire biodiversity has been affected and it cannot be repaired,” Gohain said.

Avik Chakraborty

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