An oil well blowout – yet to be brought under control 6 days after it started – has been leaking toxic natural gas into its surroundings in Upper Assam, including the fragile Dibru-Saikhowa National Park close by.
At least 2,000 people have been evacuated even as state-owned Oil India Ltd (OIL) struggles to control the massive eruption or blowout from one of its producing wells in Baghjan oilfield in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district. Natural gas continued to gush out from the leak for the fourth straight day on May 30, 2020, contaminating water bodies that flow into the Maguri-Motapung Beel, a large wetland, and the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park (DSNP) — both of which lie in the immediate vicinity, according to forest officials. Locals report that the the flora and fauna around have been impacted severely. Parts of Maguri Beel is covered in oil.
One of the heartbreaking images of the disaster is that of an endangered Gangetic Dolphin’s carcass, with its skin peeled off, possibly due to the oil and gas leakage. Photographs of the dead river dolphin and fish floating in the oil spill have been shared extensively on social media.
When such industrial units are this close to ecologically-sensitive areas, the government should mandate stricter safety norms for their operation, and have rapid environmental response standard operating procedures in place.
Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'
Environmentalists raised an alarm on Friday when locals found a carcass of an endangered Gangetic dolphin, with its skin peeled in a wetland near the area.