| Oil spilt on a paddy field in Digboi. Picture by UB Photos |
Jorhat, Jan. 29: An oil pipeline of the Indian Oil Corporation (Assam Oil Division) was closed down after a spill was detected at Paschim Mamarani village under Digboi police station last night.
Ulfa’s Paresh Barua faction claimed that the leak was the result of a blast it had triggered.
The police said there was no preliminary evidence to suggest sabotage but investigations were on. They neither accepted nor rejected Ulfa’s claim.
In Paschim Mamarani village, a large area of a paddy field was covered with oil.
Work is on to repair the damaged pipeline, which is known as the “black oil line”. It carries furnace oil from the refinery at Digboi to the terminal at Tinsukia from where it is loaded on to oil tankers for distribution. The distance between the refinery at Digboi and Tinsukia is about 30km.
Tinsukia superintendent of police P.P. Singh told The Telegraph that police were investigating the matter while awaiting a report from the Oil company.
In case of a blast, the pipeline usually catches fire and the villagers didn’t hear any explosion, Singh said. “We cannot confirm anything now. First the oil has to be removed from the area because it has submerged the pipeline, which is about 2.5 feet below the ground,” he said.
Apurba Nath, the Digboi-based chief administrative manager of IOC (AOD), told this correspondent that repair was on at the site. “The exact cause of the leakage can be ascertained once the furnace oil is removed from the area and the pipe, now under oil, is examined,” Nath said.
A crater has been found around the site of the leakage, but miscreants may have dug it up to steal oil, he said.
The process to calculate the loss caused by the spill is on, he added.
Nath said the control room staff had detected a gradual decrease in pressure in the pipeline last night and so the decision to suspend supply was taken.
This morning, a village defence party on patrol saw the spill and informed authorities and restoration work was launched, he added.
In a statement issued today by Aranya Asom, a member of the publicity wing of Ulfa’s Paresh Barua faction, the outfit claimed responsibility for the leak, which they claimed was triggered by an explosion using Magnetic Programme Time Device technique.