Normalisation of a Disaster

People who grow up in Assam are acquainted with the word ‘disaster’ at a rather early age. Bearing an uncanny synonymity with the phases of monsoon in the region, it’s a word that has been enforced into the local psyche through a systematic acquaintance, right from innocent topics in lower school textbooks, up to repeatedly sensationalized primetime headlines in local media outlets on television screens and newspapers. The Baghjan Oil Blowout happened on 27th of May 2020, which caught fire through a massive explosion on 9th of June 2020 after leaking gas in the atmosphere for two weeks, continued to burn for 6 months, before being finally doused on 15th of November, 2020. This artificial disaster in an Oil-India Limited owned site has caused the displacement of more than 1600 families who were in the vicinity of the site of gas blowout, and were being sheltered in makeshift relief camps in nearby areas. The assessment of environmental damage caused by the blowout to the adjacent ecological hotspots of Dibru-Saikhowa National park and the Maguri Motapung wetland areas are yet to be done.

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