OIL drilling in Dibru-Saikhowa: HC notice to MoEF, petroleum min

DY365
DY365
Published: August 19,2020 12:50 PM
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August 19, 2020: The Gauhati High Court has asked the Environment and petroleum ministries to reply on a PIL challenging the OIL exploration at seven locations inside Dibru Saikhowa National Park.

August 19, 2020: The Gauhati High Court has asked the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the Centre to reply on a PIL challenging the Oil India Limited exploration at seven locations inside and under the jurisdiction of Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Upper Assam.



Two petitioners, through their PILs said that as per the Forest and Environment ministry notification dated 14.09.2006, prior environmental clearance and public consultation was mandatorily required for all offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, development and production projects. However, by way of Environment Appraisal Committee recommendation dated 28.02.2017 under hearing/serial No.20.03.1 for onshore oil and gas development, drilling and production in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts under Hugrijan, Naharkatiya, Sapkaint and other parts of Upper Assam and under hearing/serial No.20.6.17 for extension drilling and testing of Hydrocarbons at 7 locations under Dibru-Saikhowa, public hearing for the proposed projects by Oil India Ltd. was dispensed with on extraneous grounds. Further, vide impugned notification dated 16.01.2020 of the MoEFCC, the Ministry had made an amendment to the EIA notification dated 14.09.2006 by which all onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration have now been categorized as “B2 Project” from “A Project”, thereby exempting public hearing and consultation for all offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, development and production projects.





The petitioners challenged the legality and validity of the environmental clearance/approval dated 11.05.2020 granted by MoEFCC to Oil India Limited for extension drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at 7 locations under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.



The Oil India Limited contended that the facts as stated are factually incorrect and the laws were followed in their letter and spirit.



In view of the nature of issue raised, the Court has directed OIL to file parawise reply to the petition. It also asked Forest Department and the petroleum and forest and environment ministries to file affidavits in this regards by september 21, 2020.