By Avik Chakraborty
Dibrugarh(Assam), Dec 7: For the replacement of old pipelines, Oil has been setting up pipelines in the eco-sensative zone of Dehing Patkai National Park, which was taken note by the various environmental groups and raised concern over the issue.
In 1954, the oil and gas pipelines was already been set up in the Digboi-Duliajan road and to replace the old one new pipelines project has been going on.
On the other hand, the environmental groups and Students’ organisation raised their voice against the activity.
The groups alleged that mass destruction of forest has been going on at Upper Dehing west block, where Oil has been setting up of Oil pipe lines. The entire area was comes under Digboi forest division.
Dehing-Patkai has been upgraded as National park but still destruction of forest has been going on unbatted, they alleged.
Many valuable tress has been chopped off for setting up of Oil pipe lines. The contractors who were alloted the work for setting up of the gas pipelines from Balijan to Kathalguri, Tinsukia had already slashed many trees in the eco-sensative area of Dehing-Patkai National Park.
On December 2, 2022, environmental groups and All Adivasi Students’ Association staged protest against the setting up of Oil pipelines in Dehing-Patkai National Park.
The environmental groups raised concern against the destruction of forest in Dehing-Patkai National Park.
“Its a eco-sensative zone, then why the permission has been given for slashing down of tress in that area. Its protected area for elephant and if such destruction has been going on then the habitat loss of elephant has been certain. We urged intervention of NGT to stop such destruction,” said Devojit Moran, environmental activist.
Moran added, “If the set up the pipelines from Lakhipathar to Lankashi and take it to Madhuban then no tress will be cut. But instead of that they have done the project inside the reserve forest which comes under Dehing Patkai National Park which is not required.”
Digboi Forest Division, DFO Ranjit Ram said, “We have not cut any major tress in the area. No canopy has been touched in that area. Oil has been replacing the old pipelines, for that they are setting up pipelines from Balijan to Kathalguri. If the replacement is not done then major sabotage can take place which is more harmful for Dehing-Patkai National Park.”
“Their are total 850 trees in the area. But a false news has been rumoured everywhere that 850 tress had been chopped off for setting up pipelines which is false. We have not touched any major tress. The Ministry of Forest had already given permission for the setting up the pipelines. The whole work for replacement of oil pipelines has been going on at reserve park not in Dehing-Patkai National Park,” Ranjit Ram said.
“If the tress are chopped into the area then the human-elephnat conflict will rises in Nahajan, Saripung, Lakhipathar, Balijan and Borjan areas. The elephnat movement will be affected and then they will started moving towards human habitation. How the forest department has got prmission of slashing big trees in the eco-sensative zone of upper Dehing reserve forest?” Bijay Gogoi, another environmentalist said.
OIL spokesperson Bhairab Bhuyan said,”Oil India Limited is delivering crude oil to Digboi refinery through Duliajan Digboi crude oil pipeline (8″) since last six decades. As the pipeline is getting old and to meet latest provisions of OISD-141 for Cross Country Pipelines, a project is taken to replace existing pipeline with new one to ensure crude oil transportation in a safe and reliable manner,”
“A portion of this pipeline falls in the Upper Dehing Reserve Forest. Another gas pipeline (18″) of Dirok JV, (which is a JV of OIL, HOEC and IOCL) and which is essential for energy security of downstream gas based industries of the region like BCPL etc is also being constructed. A portion of this pipeline is also falling within Upper Dehing Reserve Forest. To minimise environmental damage in the forest portion, both pipelines are planned to be laid in the same corridor for a portion (about 13 km) that are going parallely in the Upper Dehing Reserve. The pipeline corridor in the forest portion is beside the Duliajan – Digboi road such that works can be executed with minimum tree felling. As against normal 18 meter width ROW for Pipelines, here in the forest portion, the ROW width is much less,” he said.
He further added, “An area twice the area of diverted forest land will be put into Compensatory Afforestation. It is urged to all stakeholders that construction of the pipelines is of utmost necessity for sustainable of operation of Digboi refinery as well as for various gas based downstream industries. Oil India Limited is trying to execute the project with minimum environmental impact.”