The Pollution Control Board, Assam has slapped a fine of Rs 2.05 crore on PSU firm Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) for allegedly violating an order by the Supreme Court and causing pollution to the environment. The board’s order was issued considering violation of environmental laws in six wells of the state-owned energy behemoth in Assam.
"Pollution Control Board, Assam, is constrained to inform you that you have nonchalantly violated the provisions of law in force causing pollution to the environment," said the order dated September 5, 2019. "Environmental compensation fine amounting to Rs 2,04,90,000 only has been assessed as per formula provided by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Principal Bench," it added.
ONGC has been asked to deposit the money within one month of issuance of the order. When contacted, ONGC officials declined to make comments immediately. Before taking the action, the Pollution Control Board, Assam (PCBA) had issued a show cause notice to the company on June 28 this year and ONGC replied to it on July 18.
"Your reply to the show cause notice is not based on the facts and findings of the inspection carried out during July 6 to July 8, 2019 by engineers and scientists deputed from Head Office cum Central Laboratory of this board," the order said.
It also said that the drilling operation of the six well units were "either completed or in operation without installing any primary effluent treatment plant" (PETP) at the sites. "During inspection by the officials of the board's Regional Laboratory cum Office, at Sivasagar, 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,"PCBA said.
It also mentioned that the Supreme Court, in its judgment passed on February 22, 2017, had directed all the effluent discharging units to install PETP within three months, which was by May 22, 2017. "Thereby you have violated the aforementioned order of the Supreme Court of India pertaining to installation of primary effluent treatment plant," the board told ONGC.
As per the "analysis report" of samples collected during the inspection by the officials, it was found that parameters such as "oil and grease and total suspended solids" are beyond the permissible limits in all cases, which indicate "your failure in pollution control measures", the order said.
Though the penalty was for six wells, but 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. "You are directed to take necessary measures for proper treatment of the effluent and arrange for reclamation of the completed drill sites," it added.