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Laying pipelines inside eco-sensitive zone of Dehing Patkai National Park opposed

For the replacement of old pipelines, OIL has been laying pipelines in the eco-sensitive zone of Dehing Patkai National Park

Dehing Patkai

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  8 Dec 2022 6:27 AM GMT


DIBRUGARH: For the replacement of old pipelines, OIL has been laying pipelines in the eco-sensitive zone of Dehing Patkai National Park, which was taken note of by various environmental groups and they raised concern over the issue.

In 1954, oil pipelines were already set up in the Digboi-Duliajan road and to replace the old pipelines, this project was taken up. Environmental groups and student organizations have raised their voice against the activity.

The groups alleged that mass destruction of forest has been going on at the Upper Dehing west block, where OIL has been setting up pipelines. The entire area comes under Digboi forest division. Dehing-Patkai has been upgraded as national park but still destruction of forest has been going on unbated, they alleged.

Many valuable trees have been chopped off for setting up of pipelines. The contractors who were allotted the work for setting up of the gas pipelines from Balijan to Kathalguri, Tinsukia have already slashed many trees in the eco-sensitive area of Dehing-Patkai National Park.

On December 2 environmental groups and All Adivasi Students'Association staged protest against the setting up of pipelines in Dehing-Patkai National Park. The environmental groups raised concern against the destruction of forest in Dehing-Patkai National Park.

"It is an eco-sensitive zone. Why has permission been given for cutting down of trees in that area? It is a protected area for elephants and if such destruction goes on, the habitat loss of elephant is certain. We urge intervention of NGT to stop such destruction," said Devojit Moran, environmental activist.

Moran added, "If they set up the pipelines from Lakhipathar to Lankashi and take them to Madhuban then no tress will be cut. But instead of that, they are implementing the project inside the reserve forest which comes under the Dehing Patkai National Park." Digboi Forest Division, DFO Ranjit Ram said, "We have not cut any major trees in the area. No canopy has been touched in that area. OIL is 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 the Dehing-Patkai National Park."

"There are a total of 850 trees in the area. But a rumour is beings spread that 850 trees have been chopped off for setting up pipelines, which is false. We have not touched any major trees. 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 in the reserve park, not in Dehing-Patkai National Park," Ranjit Ram said.

"If the trees are chopped into the area then the human-elephant conflict will aggravate in Nahajan, Saripung, Lakhipathar, Balijan and Borjan areas. The movement of elephants will be affected and then they will start moving towards human habitation. How did the forest department get permission for slashing big trees in the eco-sensitive zone of upper Dehing reserve forest?" Bijay Gogoi, another environmentalist, said.

Talking to The Sentinel on Wednesday, OIL spokesperson Bhairab Bhuyan said, "Oil India Limited (OIL) 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 minimize 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 parallelly 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 metre 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."

Also Read: Poachers flee on seeing forest personnel at Dehing Patkai National Park

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