The National Green Tribunal ordered the Environment Ministry and State Pollution Control Board to submit a report explaining how it granted an Environment Clearance permitting Indian Oil Corporation to drill oil wells in the Dibru–Saikhowa National Park of Assam.
Assam-based conservationists Bimal Gogoi and Mridu Paban Phukan appealed the Eastern Zone Bench of the National Green Tribunal against the Environmental Clearance (EC) granted to Indian Oil Corporation on 11 May, 2020.
They brought to notice of the Tribunal that Indian Oil Corporation had flouted the Supreme Court's order dated 7 September 2017 in In Re: T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v Union Of India which mandated it to conduct a Biodiversity Impact Assessment Study before commencing operation in the Dibru–Saikhowa National Park.
The Court also noted that a public hearing as per the EIA Notification 2006 had not been conducted before granting an Environmental Clearance to Indian Oil.
The petition averred that it is beyond the scope of Environment Assessment Committee to grant an exemption to public hearing on its own. As per the law, an exemption to public hearing can only be granted on certain grounds on a report of the State Pollution Control Board and no such report had been submitted in this case.
The Court also noted the petitioner's claim that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project undermines the risk to the project due to "blowout" as the blowout risk had been calculated as per the United States data and no data pertaining to India had been provided in the EIA report.
Further, the EIA report had no mention of the recent "blowout" of Baghjan well on May 26, 2020 which resulted in massive irreparable injury to the environment and the people of the surrounding villages.
The Court directed the Environment Ministry and the State Pollution Control Board to submit a report on these specific points so that the Court may consider the legality of the Environment Clearance granted to Indian Oil on its next hearing.
The matter has been listed on 13th August, 2020.
The Bhagjan natural gas well had burst into flames 15 days after its blow out on May 26, 2020 in the Dibru Saikhowa National Park. The Indian Oil Corporation in response to the accident had clarified that it had not entered the protected area as its drilling operation was being carried by using an extended reach drilling technology from beyond the National Park.
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