Amid a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases and the massive flash floods that claimed many lives, Assam is now battling with another crisis. An oil well owned by Oil India Ltd in Assam's Guwahati has been releasing natural gas into the air after it reported a leak.
Officials at Oil India are working to fix the leak.
As many as 2,000 people in a radius of 1.5-km from the oil well were transferred to relief camps after the leak was reported. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has stepped up to help the relief camp operations for the people living in village Baghjan in Tinsukia district.
The constant release of gas put wetlands, a national park and endangered species in the area at threat.
After the Assam government's request, the Centre and Oil India sent experts to control the gas leak. Oil India said that it is in touch with US-based "well-killing" experts who will offer their assistance.
"The day it happened we spoke to the Union Petroleum Minister and the Centre has taken it seriously. The Centre is sending more experts. The CMD of Oil India himself is overseeing operations. The Chief Minister has asked the authorities of the State Pollution Control Board to visit the area. From tomorrow (Sunday) more experts will be joining the operation to stop the leakage," Assam minister and government spokesperson Chandra Mohan Patowary said.
People in the village Baghjan have claimed that they have seen carcasses of the endangered Gangetic Dolphins in the Maguribeel wetlands. Images and videos of an oil spill in the wetlands have been widely shared.
The villagers complained of a heavy smell of gas in the air and said that oil has spilled into several areas around the eco-sensitive zone at Dibru Saikhowa National Park, which is famous for migratory birds.
The state forest department has issued notice to Oil India after photographs of a dead river dolphin and fish floating Maguri-Motapung lake next to the national park and 1.5 km from the oil well, were widely shared on social media.
A five member committee of Oil India has initiated a probe into the incident. Experts from ONGC have also extended help to bring the situation under control.