A petition in this regard was filed by three students of NLUJAA, Shubham Kashyap Kalita, Aviral Vats and Ritre OO Lyngdoh dated 18th June 2020, in the name of justice in wake of the environmental calamity that has occurred in the oil wells of Baghjan, Tinsukia District of Assam.
The students had urged the NGT to take cognizance of the matter and to held inquiries for the grave violations of environmental laws by OIL. It has further urged the Tribunal to take necessary actions.
The students in the petition had mentioned violations of various legislations such as Environment Protection Act, 1986; Forest Conservation Act 1980; Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974; Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981; Biological Diversity Act 1992 and various other international legislations.
It was stated in the petition that the MOEFF had granted environmental clearance for drilling in the Baghjan Area of Tinsukia District, Assam despite having a risk of adverse effect on the environment to be caused by the company and the site to be in close proximity to Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and a reserved area. No proper impact assessment has been done by MOEFF before granting EC to OIL. It was further stated that OIL had manipulated the bodies to get a clearance for the drilling operations as the Baghjan 5 well of OIL is at a distance of less than a kilometre from the wetlands at the southern end of the Park, a part of the ESZ.
The students have pleaded before the Tribunal to hold an inquiry into whether OIL had complied with all the conditions to be met in the EIA report and whether any information has been put in a mischievous way to misguide the authorities. In case of any loophole or non-compliance being found, the Tribunal must take appropriate actions which can be set as a precedent for such future cases. It was further contended in the petition that the Oil India Limited (OIL) had acquired approval on the use of a reserved land for Non-Forest purposes clearance U/S 2 (ii) of the Act from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 11.05.2020 for the project without a Public Hearing since the said public sector had stressed on National Importance. The Oil India Limited (OIL) had allegedly commenced drilling projects without the approval or clearance from the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) prior to 11.05.2020 in the areas which was a huge concern for the residents and locals in Baghjan wherein a protest took place on 05.06.2020 (World Environment Day) by the said residents.
The students have further urged the NGT to make necessary arrangements for the people to file their claims to the concerned authority under the Public Liabilities Insurance Act, 1991 and also for a direction be issued for the establishment of an Environment Relief Fund U/S 7A of the Public Liabilities Insurance Act.
The students have stressed upon Article 48-A and Article 51A of the Constitution and stated that it is the duty of the state as well as the citizens to secure the environment as well as the public health and the activities detrimental to it should be stopped in larger interest of the public. The students have further raised contentions upon the violation of fundamental rights such as right to life; right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The petition have been accepted by NGT dated 3rd July 2020.