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Cloud over nod for IOC pipeline project

Nov. 23: The Indian Oil Corporation’s (IOC) proposal to lay an aviation turbine fuel pipeline from Noonmati to Borjhar, which has the support of the state government with conditions, may find it difficult to get the nod of National Board for Wildlife, according to forest department sources.

The sources said as the underground pipeline will pass within the 10km boundary of Deepor Beel wildlife sanctuary, the board will look into all aspects before giving the forest clearance after which construction can start.

Any project coming up within a radius of 10 square km of the boundary of any sanctuary will require clearance from the board.

“There is no forest diversion involved but it will not be easy to get a clearance from the board. The members will make a comprehensive assessment before clearing it,” a source said, adding that the board wants to ensure that wildlife is not adversely affected by any project.

Guwahati Refinery, which is under the IOC, announced the project last year.

The pipeline will facilitate easy and smooth transportation of aviation turbine fuel to the airport and transfer of fuel through this system is one of the safest. One of the biggest advantages of laying an underground pipeline is that it avoids road congestion.

IOC sources said an estimated 140 tonnes of LPG is moved from Guwahati Refinery to Sarpara and north Guwahati bottling plants by road.

A source said the project would come up for discussion when the national board meets next, which can be in the next three months, but till that time the authorities cannot start the project.

The Guwahati wildlife division before clearing the project had asked the IOC to put valves of the pipeline at the entry and exit points of the eco-sensitive zone of the wildlife sanctuary in order to stop oil flow in case of any emergency/accident so that damage to the sanctuary can be prevented/minimised in such a situation. It has called for all precautionary measures to be ensured to prevent any form of pollution in the wetland and its adjoining areas.

The pipeline preferably should be laid minimum 1.5 metres below the ground level. An official of Guwahati wildlife division said officials of the state forest department shall be empowered to inspect the pipeline at any time to take samples for analysis and may also call for any information.

“No permanent structure should be constructed on the pipeline, particularly in the area that falls in the elephant corridor,” the official said.

It has asked the IOC to maintain environment and make provision for plantation of selected species of trees in selected and vacant places in consultation with the state forest department. Another condition laid by the division was that oil-soaking pad and other such articles should be made readily available at the site to fight any emergency situation against accidental leakage of oil.