On Thursday, the Supreme Court of India in the process of adjudication the matter of Baghjan Oil Blowout which took place on the destruction that caused havoc last year for almost five months removed Assam Chief Secretary and the managing director of Oil India Ltd from 10-member panel, established by the National Green Tribunal to investigate the possible cause and casualties behind the man-made calamity.
This led to the restoration of B.P Katakey, former judge of Guwahati High Court to lead the 5-member committee towards probing the casualties and ecological devastation caused by the blowout of Oil India’s Tank No. 5 in Tinsukia district’s Baghjan.
Unending nightmare continued for 5 months
The catastrophe of fire and the explosion that rocked the earth as well as the conscience of netizens with heart-wrenching photos of devastation that reminded everyone of ‘the deafening blast’ mentioned in the religious scriptures was the longest oil well fire that India has ever witnessed.
It started on 27 May 2020 and went on for 5 months which makes 175 days. The location of the Oil field triggered more concerns regarding the possible magnitude of destruction as it is situated near the Dibru Saikhowa National Park, which inflicted massive destruction of the flora and fauna in the region. This also led to the displacement of nearly about 12 families who lost their home and assets earned to the fire and causes the deaf th 3 people. The local inhabitants face unimaginable trauma and spent their days in absolute dread due to earthquake-like shocks induced by the fire.
Towards a new approach into the investigation
With B.P Katakey assigned as the chairperson, the new 5-member committee will be constituted by salient experts from their respective fields. Theincludedes Qamar Qureshi, who is a professor with the Wildlife Institute of India, Riteish Kumar, who is the director of Wetlands International South A,sia, and Bedanga Bordoloi, who is a soil and petroleum expert.
Role of Bonani Kakkar
Kolkata-biassed activists played a pivotal role in shaping the course of justice and legal actions in the case of the Baghjan Blowout Case. She had earlier, in January 2021, challenged the progress report presented by the committee headed and constituted by National Green Tribunals, detailing the estimated casualties. She claimed in detail and highlighted that the magnitude of the destruction was much more than the report.
In the recent removal of the Assam Chief Secretary and the managing director of OIL INDIA LTD by the Supreme Court asserting,” it will a be a breach of the principles of natural justice”, Bonani Kakkar’s role was both prior and pivotal. With utmost resentment, the activist approached and sought an ‘unbiased and just’ judicial process from the apex court by demanding the removal of OIL officials from the committee, which is aimed towards the investigation behind the catastrophe.