Agro-Ecosystem Diversity in Petroleum and Natural Gas Explored Sites in Assam State, North-Eastern India: Socio-Economic Perspectives

  • Dolikajyoti Sharma
  • Hemen Sarma
  • Sujata Hazarika
  • N. F. Islam
  • M. N. V. Prasad
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 27)


The discovery of oil, drilling of oil wells and exploration of fuels from underground reserves and their transportation has a long worldwide history. As collateral for this, accidents of oil tankers and leakage of pipelines, oil spills and infiltration into the sites of explorations, forest and agriculture lands have accompanied oil production. Its visible impact on agriculture productivity has been observed and explored in different parts of the world, including the biodiversity hotspots of the Indian subcontinent. The degraded land becomes barren and unsuitable for the cultivation of cereal crops for longer periods of time. Cereal and horticultural crops are more sensitive and cannot be grown in such inhospitable soil; therefore, alternative energy crops are fit and efficient substitutes on such degraded land.

The oil industry is one of the major industries in the State of Assam, North-Eastern India. The Oil India Limited (OIL) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) are the two leading companies in this sector which are actively engaged in crude oil exploration in various sites of Assam. According to an estimate the crude oil production in Assam was reported to be 4740TMT (Thousand Metric Tonnes) during the year 2010–11 which was expected to increase manifold with the discovery of new oil drilling sites in various locations.

Most of the drilling sites are based at the periphery of human settlements including adjoining agro-ecosystems. A glimpse of some crude oil exploration sites (a) Lakua, (b) Geleki, (c) Rudrasagar and (d) Moran oil fields shows an alarming picture of this economic activity. During the oil exploration as well as transportation process of crude oil from drilling site, high pressure in the pipe line causes leakage which results in soil and water contamination. Contamination may also take place due to seepage of crude oil from the effluent pits and Group Gathering Station/Oil Collecting Station (GGS/OCS) where crude oil is stored for refining.

In this review, we focus on some fast-growing, contamination-tolerant, energy crops that can be grown in nutrient-less hostile environments for economic benefits as part of sustainable agricultural practices in petroleum and natural gas explored sites. More importantly, these crops remediate contaminated soil and contribute to bio-based economy. In this review, a comprehensive update of agricultural practices implemented in such sites, the possible role of energy crops for sustainable agriculture, and the potential of agro-based industries have been underscored.


Agro-ecosystem Energy crops Phytoremediation Cultural ecology 



The Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi provided principal funding through a grant to HS (BT/489/NE/TBP/2013). MNVP is the collaborator of this twin project and SR received a fellowship from the DBT project at NER center. NFI led the field works for photography. HS and MNVP developed TOC, SR retrieved data from published papers. HS carried out manuscript writing and MNVP edited the photographs and streamlined the manuscript. DS incorporated some aspects of cultural ecology. The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dolikajyoti Sharma
    • 1
  • Hemen Sarma
    • 2
  • Sujata Hazarika
    • 2
  • N. F. Islam
    • 2
  • M. N. V. Prasad
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EnglishGauhati UniversityGuwahatiIndia
  2. 2.Department of BotanyN N Saikia CollegeTitabarIndia
  3. 3.Department of Plant SciencesUniversity of HyderabadHyderabadIndia

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