Question mark over Oil India's security arrangements

Vol 7, PW 3 (23 Apr 03) People & Policy

THANKS TO some stray villagers who guided them, Davidovich and the Oil India team returned to base camp on 15th April after three days in the jungle.

Davidovich was glad to be alive but was thoroughly shaken by the experience and the next day left Assam for Delhi where he boarded an Aeroflot flight to Moscow. Angry and bitter, Davidovich criticised the grossly inadequate security arrangements and communications facilities laid on by Oil India.

"I got the feeling that the security guards were amateurs," he said. "They seemed totally lost." Davidovich said Assam was not his first 'tough' assignment.

"As consultants we often have to work in difficult and trouble-prone terrain. I have worked in the jungles of West Africa.

I have been in trouble spots before but nothing like this. As professionals we expect our hosts to make the necessary security arrangements." Oil India is unruffled by the incident.

"Davidovich has left us but the work will continue," N.M Bora of Oil India tells PETROWATCH.

Assam authorities view the incident seriously but blame Oil India. "We repeatedly tell ONGC and Oil India to inform the nearest police station whenever they have foreign nationals going out with exploratory parties," said state home commissioner B.

K Gohain. "This was not done in this particular case.

We have again told them not to overlook this vital security drill." In 1991 Assam's ULFA separatists kidnapped Russian coal expert Sergei Gritchenko on assignment with Coal India. Gritchenko killed one of his captors and tried to escape but was shot dead by ULFA.

In 1993, France's Compagnie Generale de Geophysique pulled out of a 3D seismic assignment in Upper Assam after ULFA demanded a Rs20 lakh "tax".

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