More than five months after the Baghjan gas well in Assam's Tinsukia district burst into flames after a blowout that killed three people and is believed to have caused great damage to the region's rich ecology, the fire has been finally doused.
The well operated by Oil India Limited (OIL) had caught fire on June 9 after suffering a blowout on May 27. Two firefighters and an engineer died at the accident site in efforts to bring the fire under control.
Oil India Limited along with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and experts from the US and Singapore were able to cap the fire on the wellhead in August and a portion of the released gas was diverted for production.
But a fire kept burning because of the pressure of the unused gas near the well. This was extinguished today using technology brought in by Canadian experts.
The world's largest civilian transport aircraft Antonov AN124 was used to carry equipment from Canada to Kolkata and then was transported by road in a 14-day long journey to reach Baghjan in Assam's Tinsukia district.
Earlier, three attempts to put out the fire using the mud-sludge technique had failed.
"The well has been killed with a brine solution. The fire has been doused completely. There is no pressure in the well now and the same will be observed for 24 hours to check if there is any amount of gas migration and pressure build-up. A further operation to abandon the well is in progress," said Oil India Limited spokesperson Tridiv Hazarika.
Apart from local engineers, experts from Canada, US and Singapore were engaged at the site.
Because of the fire, hundreds of families living in the area were shifted to temporary camps.
A panel formed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in its report earlier this month had stated that Oil India Limited was operating the well at Baghjan without the required official permissions at the time of the incident.
The committee headed by retired Gauhati High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey had also recommended directions to be issued to Pollution Control Board of Assam (PCBA) to take legal action against Oil India Limited for violating the rules.
Earlier, in a preliminary report, the Wildlife Institute of India that had studied the environmental damage caused due to gas well blowout had found that oil has leaked into nearby Lohit river polluting the water and the Maguri-Motapung wetland with toxic pollutants.
This wetland is located within 10 km of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and is a part of the Dibru-Saikhowa Biosphere Reserve (DSBR).