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Dangerous dilemma over Changpang oil seepage
Staff Reporter Dimapur, Mar 20 (NPN):
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Published on 21 Mar. 2011 12:41 AM IST
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After all the exercises undertaken by the Cabinet Sub-Committee for Oil and Natural resource exploration during the first week of January 2011, to assess the ground situation arising in Changpang and suggest remedial measures for cleaning up oil spill and capping leaking oil wells, the decision of the state cabinet weeks later, has literally put the issue on backburner.
It may be recalled that a series of reports appeared in this newspaper since 1996 highlighting spillage of oil after ONGC abandoned Chanpang oil wells amidst opposition from NSF and subsequent order by the state government to halt all oil activities in 1994.
The Cabinet Sub Committee set up in September 2009 was to have submitted its recommendations within six months on formulation of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for oil exploration but so far there is no information if any recommendation was submitted to the government.
The state Cabinet at its meeting on February 17, this year had virtually ruled out permission to ONGC to clean up oil spills and capping of oil wells, an offer made by the ONGC since a few years back.
The Cabinet had decided that till the MoU was given a concrete shape no activity in Changpang even by the ONGC should be undertaken.
According to reliable sources, it was disclosed that the state government has two options with regard to cleaning up oil spills and capping of leaking oil well in Changpang. One of the options was (a) to raise its own fund of around Rs.50 crore and float tender for the works or (b) float open tender where any company winning the bid would have to fund the entire operations on its own with the assurance that in future bidding for oil exploration, the company would be given preference for permission to undertake oil activities.
The Cabinet has reportedly asked the Cabinet Sub Committee for oil and natural resource exploration to submit its recommendations for formulating a new MoU within three months.
While the issue remains unresolved, oil leakage from oil wells at Chanpang causing not only environmental hazard but potential oil well fire that would prove catastrophic.

 
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