The Gauhati High Court has stayed the Centre's permission to Oil India Ltd (OIL) to drill seven wells inside Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
The PIL was filed against the Centre's approval to OIL for drilling inside the forest very rich in biodiversity by amending existing norms like public hearing under the draft Environment Impact Assessment Notification 2020.
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEF&CC) had amended the existing rule related to public hearing on January 16, 2020 and categorised all onshore and offshore oil and gas explorations as 'B2 Project' from 'A Project' earlier.
The MoEF&CC had accorded environmental clearance to OIL for drilling and testing of hydrocarbons at seven locations under Dibru-Saikhowa National Park.
As per the Supreme Court order OIL was required to conduct the Bio Diversity Impact Assessment Study.
The company had claimed that it would drill the seven wells inside the national park from about 1.5 km distance outside the boundary of the forest with the help of advanced Extended Reach Drilling (ERD) technology.
It had asserted that no disturbance to the environment and Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is envisaged due to use of the ERD technology.
Dibru-Saikhowa National park
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park is a national park in Assam located in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts. It was designated a Biosphere Reserve in July 1997.
The park is bounded by the Brahmaputra and Lohit Rivers in the north and Dibru River in the south.
It mainly consists of moist mixed semi-evergreen forests, moist mixed deciduous forests, canebrakes, and grasslands. It is the largest salix swamp forest in north-eastern India.
Originally created to help conserve the habitat of the rare white-winged wood duck, the park is also home to other rare creatures such as water buffalo, black-breasted parrotbill, tiger, and capped langur.