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The Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) has issued a closure notice to the Oil India Limited (OIL), to shut down all its production and drilling instalments in Baghjan Oilfield stating that the company started functioning 'without obtaining prior consent to operate' from it.
In the order issued to the Chief Executive of OIL on June 19, the board informed that resuming operations without approval is a serious violation of the provisions of the Water Act, 1974, Air Act, 1981 as well as Environment Protection Act, 1986.
It also mentioned a number of alleged environmental transgressions by the PSU, The Indian Express reported.
Till date, Baghjan's gas well number 5, adjoined with 21 other active wells in Tinsukia District of Assam, continues to be on fire after the blowout on June 9.
Chairman of the PCBA, Y Suryanarayana informed the media about the notice issued to the company around June 10 over the incident, where they had asked for the response within seven days, to which the company requested for an extension.
The company started its operation without receiving any approval of extended time, following which the board has now issued the closure notice. The notice applies to all the wells under the Baghjan oilfield.
"It is mandatory to obtain prior permission/clearance from MoEF&CC as well as state PCB for production, drilling, pumping of crude oil and laying pipeline activities as per EIA notification, 2006 and various provisions under the Section 25/26 of the Water (Prevention of Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and Section 21 of the Air (Prevention of Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Authorization under the Hazardous & other waste (Management & Transboundary Movement) Rules, 2016 as amended up to date," the PCB order read.
Suryanarayana said that the withdrawal of closure notice will be considered if only the company follows the rules and regulations prescribed by the government.
No response has yet been received from OIL. However, an anonymous company official informed the media that it will take legal recourse in the matter, challenging the order and appeal a stay on it.
The Assam fire led to a massive ecological disaster and deaths of two firefighters. Around 11,000 people living nearby were evacuated and are now in relief camps set up by the administration.
Since then, 30 oil wells and five gas wells of the company have faced production loss of almost 7627 MT Crude Oil and 9.87 MMSCMD of natural gas, due to the protests carried out by local people.
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