Jorhat, May 31: Assam’s grim power scenario is set to worsen with Oil India Ltd’s activities being disrupted by a 72-hour blockade called by the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) since yesterday.
“Our activities have been disrupted in various operational areas in both Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, especially in Dibrugarh. This will affect the supply of gas to the power projects,” OIL spokesperson Tridip Hazarika said.
OIL is the sole supplier to two gas-based thermal power projects in the state, Kathalguri of North East Electric Power Corporation Limited (Neepco) and Namrup of Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB), and supplies the bulk of the requirement to ASEB’s Lakwa thermal power project.
It supplies 505,883,698 standard cubic metre (SCM) of gas to Kathalguri and 245,396,428 SCM and 131,638,732 SCM respectively to Namrup and Lakwa projects annually.
Hazarika said protesters threw stones at vehicles carrying OIL workers today, resulting in damage to several vehicles.
The OIL blockade is likely to affect tea production in Upper Assam estates as well, since most of the tea factories use gas as fuel to run the factories.
“We supply gas to more than 350 tea estates in the state through the Assam Gas Company Limited,” Hazarika said.
The tea community students have been demanding a Rs 100-crore package from the company for the development of tea community and 30 per cent reservation for posts of Grade IV employees for tea community youths in OIL.
ATTSA said OIL has been carrying out exploration and drilling activities in the tea garden areas of Upper Assam by taking away plantation lands, which had affected the livelihood of workers.
“Although the company has been carrying out activities in tea gardens, it has done nothing for the development of the community,” ATTSA president Prahlad Gowala alleged.
“We will intensify our strike if our demands are not met. We will call for a 100-hour OIL bandh next time,” he added.
Two rounds of talks between the ATTSA and OIL authorities have failed to find a solution, with the students’ association remaining adamant on its demands.
Refuting the allegations, the OIL spokesperson said, “Our company is committed to carrying out development in its area of operations. It had spent Rs 51.9 crore (last year) under its corporate social responsibility schemes and the bulk of the fund was spent in the Northeast.”
He said the company’s doors were open to any organisation or individual for discussions.