DIBRUGARH, June 12 - With the unexplained tremors continuing unabated around the blazing Baghjan inferno near Tinsukia, a few more families have been provided shelter at the three camps in Guijan since this morning. There are 654 families in Guijan, all of whom are being looked after by the Tinsukia district administration. These families are from the Natungaon and Gotong areas, sandwiched between Baghjan and Guijan.
A heavy deployment of army personnel and defence vehicles have been witnessed around a one-km radius area of the Baghjan fire. Civilians are discouraged from venturing into this perimeter, even as locals are resenting this obstruction. The locals want to go near their fire ravaged homes to see if anything can be salvaged.
Oil India Limited�s Resident Chief Executive Dilip Kumar Das said the tremors are not any geological seismic occurrences, but more likely to be resonance induced.
Das informed that OIL has requested IIT Guwahati and NEIST (CSIR) Jorhat � popularly known as RRL Jorhat � to study the vibrations/tremors and submit reports for addressing the phenomenon.
Today, Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary clarified at a news conference at Tinsukia that the families of the two dead firemen, Durlov Gogoi and Tikheswar Gohain, have been provided with ex-gratia of Rs 30 lakh per family. The remainder amounts were their gratuity and other statutory dues.
Patowary, who came in for public criticism for his off-the-cuff remarks that the Baghjan fire was nothing compared to �much bigger fires in Iran and Russia�, was today restrained in his comments.
Knowledgeable people have told reporters today that Iran and Russia have never had major peacetime oilfield disasters, and that these two countries practice very high levels of oilfield safety protocols. These experts, all former OIL and ONGC employees, said it is a matter of huge concern that the 100-year-old oil industry in Assam do not have independent disaster fighting mechanisms. OIL�s last major oilfield disaster was in 2005 when a rig at Dikom near here went up in flames. That fire took 45 days to be doused, that too with the help of Russian firefighters. The Baghjan disaster is sought to be mitigated with Singaporean help (Singapore does not even have an oilfield). More experts from overseas are likely to join the team that is already present in Duliajan since Sunday.
At Duliajan, frenetic activity is on at the OIL workshops, with work on pumps and other paraphernalia being fabricated round the clock. These would be then transported to Baghjan for deployment for killing the fire and capping the well.
OIL today stated in a press release that petroleum and gas production at its 66 oil wells and 13 gas wells were affected due to agitation/blockade by students� organisations and local people at Makum, Barekuri, Hapjan, Lankashi, Nagajan, Hebeda and Dhakul areas leading to loss of crude oil and gas output.
Some crude oil transportation was carried out in bowsers (oil tankers) with security escort. OIL said today�s production loss was to the tune of 638 MT of crude oil from 66 oil wells and 0.46 MMSCMD (million cubic metres) of natural gas from three gas wells, as on end of day on June 11. OIL has blamed �local people�, All Moran Students� Union and ATTSA for the work blockades at Makum, Barekuri, Hapjan, Lankashi, Nagajan, Hebeda and Dhakul area.
Speaking to this reporter this evening, AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said it is shocking that a highly profit making company like OIL has a safety department with just one clerk and an engineer with no equipment, no R&D. �OIL has refused to learn from its previous disasters, which is a crime,� he said. He said AASU demands that all affected families be given liberal compensation, and provided with long-term rehabilitation. He added that an important measure OIL must take in all its accident affected sites is to undertake �soil bio-remediation� so that farming and other non-petro activities can be resumed on these lands. Gogoi also warned OIL not to do anything to mislead the people at large and desist from blaming students groups on imaginary grounds.