Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has been fined almost Rs 2.05 crore for environmental pollution.
The Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) has imposed a fine of Rs 2,04,90,000, informing ONGC in a letter dated September 5, 2019, that it had “nonchalantly violated the provisions of the law in force causing pollution to the environment”.
The PCBA has also cited a violation of a Supreme Court order dated February 22, 2017, which directed all effluent discharging units to install Primary Effluent Treatment Plant (PETP) within three months.
According to the PCBA notice, the drilling operation of six well units of Geleki and Lakwa were found to be either completed or operational without installing any PETP at the sites.
Though the penalty was for six wells, the board informed ONGC that the Regional Laboratory cum Office had reported there was no mobile ETP for treatment of the effluent of the waste pits in eight wells.
"During an inspection by officials of the regional laboratory cum office, Sivasagar, of the PCBA, it has been observed that there is seepage/leakage in the waste pits of the wells. Waste pits were full of effluent and without having any treatment facility,” the PCBA stated.
The ‘Environmental Compensation’ (EC) is based on a formula recommended by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order as per its order on February 19, 2019.
The EC formula incorporates the “anticipated severity of environmental pollution in terms of Pollution Index, duration of violation in terms of the number of days, the scale of operation in terms of micro/small/medium/large industry and location in terms of proximity to large habitations. The minimum Environmental Compensation, in any case, is Rs 5,000 per day.
The PCBA had earlier issued a show-cause notice to the company on June 28 this year, and ONGC had replied to it on July 18. However, the reply rendered by the PSU was found to be devoid of the “facts and findings" carried out by a team of engineers and scientists from Head Office cum Central Laboratory of PCBA during July 6 to July 8, 2019.
Subsequently, an analysis of the effluent samples collected from various ONGC sites indicated that the pollution parameters were beyond permissible limit in all cases.
"As per the Analysis Report of samples collected on 6th and 8th August 2019 by the inspecting officials from your various well sites, it was found that parameters such as “oil and grease” and total suspended solids” are beyond the permissible limit in all cases, which indicate your failure in pollution control measures”, the PCBA order said.The ONGC has been accorded a month’s time to pay the fine besides being directed to take “necessary measures for proper treatment of the effluent and drill cut in all the ongoing drill sites, and arrange for reclamation of the completed drill sites”.