Guwahati: The Tea Association of India (TAI) has requested the Assam government to take cognizance of the “threat” to the tea industry due to the gas blowout and subsequent fire at the Baghjan well of Oil India Ltd.
In a statement TAI secretary general P K Bhattacharjee said, “Tea and oil have traditionally being the main economic backbones of Assam and have co-existed since the early 19th century, but the recent mishap has brought to fore the apprehension in tea estates where there are oil wells within its precincts.”
In the Upper Assam region of the state, both tea and oil sectors have been growing and running businesses parallely since ages. A significant portion of garden lands have been acquired by the state government to facilitate exploration and digging of oil fields, he said.
“The Baghjan incident has had a serious environmental repercussions on the soil and environment in and around the tea estates, but the most important aspect is that the workforce continues to remain perpetually apprehensive of their livelihood, should there be a recurrence of such at any point of time in the future,” the secretary general added.
He added that the TAI has urged the state government to adopt a long-term mechanism to lessen the impact of such eventualities in the near future.
“We urged the Assam government to take cognizance of such threat as has arisen out of Baghjan incident and put in place a protocol that could address such eventualities with least degree of collateral damage,” Bhattacharjee said.
Around 400 workers of the Digulturrung tea estate in Doom Dooma town of Assam’s Tinsukia district have not returned to work since the massive fire broke out at Well 5 in Baghjan oil field.
Nearly 1,400 workers were engaged in plucking and maintenance activities when the well caught fire Tuesday afternoon, forcing people to flee and take refuge in schools and safer areas nearby.
The Digulturrung tea garden is 1.5km away from the OIL installation. The garden is famous for its Oakland mark tea infused with Raspberry Jam flavour. The company recently sold a kilo of Oakland for Rs 362 at the Kolkata tea auction.