GUWAHATI, Jan 9 � A two-member team of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife (SC-NBWL) has urged the Standing Committee of the Board to strongly disapprove of the practice of the Oil India Ltd (OIL) of securing post-facto clearance to its projects from it by creating a fait accompli situation.
The team, consisting of Standing Committee members Dr M D Madhusudan and Prerna Singh Bindra, observed that the representative of the OIL had at the 27th meeting (on December 12, 2012) of the SC-NBWL, informed that its oil pipeline was being laid in non-forest land falling within 10-km of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and Borajan-Bherjan-Padumoni Wildlife Sanctuary. This made the Standing Committee of the Board grant permission to the OIL pipeline laying project in that area.
However, the local stakeholders challenged this statement of the OIL in a letter to the chairperson and members of the Standing Committee of the Board and requested a reconsideration of the Standing Committee�s decision on the issue. The non-official members of the Standing Committee also raised the issue in its 28th meeting, which led to the Standing Committee staying the above decision. The 28th meeting formed the two-member team for a site visit comprising Dr Madhusudan and Bindra.
The OIL officials remained evasive when the issue was raised by Dr Madhusudan and Bindra during their visit to the area. The OIL was told that such an act of laying pipeline prior to securing the Standing Committee permission was a violation of a Supreme Court order. The OIL management told the Standing Committee that it had not violated the Supreme Court order, as, it had carried out construction of the pipeline only after the initial recommendation of the Standing Committee.
However, a letter written to the Tinsukia Deputy Commissioner by the Tinsukia Wildlife Division on February 18, 2010 stated��� a major portion of the pipeline from Baghjan to Makum has been constructed except a small stretch spanning about 1 km across the Dibru river and adjacent low-lying marshy area near Bebejia.� The letter further stated, �Therefore, it is obvious that Oil had gone ahead with implementation of the Baghjan �Makum pipeline without obtaining mandatory environmental clearance.�
The two-member team concluded that prima facie, the OIL did �indeed carry out construction /pipeline laying much before approaching the SC- NBWL, and perhaps, even before obtaining their environment clearance, in January 2012.�