Ruing the general attitude towards public safety in the country, the Bombay high court, on Monday, expressed concern over residential colonies coming up in proximity to installations such as oil refineries in Chembur.
A division bench of justice PB Majmudar and justice Mridula Bhatkar was hearing a petition filed by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) objecting to conversion and development of land in its periphery by Oswal Agro Mills Limited. HPCL said the project would not only pose threat to the refinery, but would also affect the residents’ health in the high-rise due to toxic fumes from the refinery.
Advocate Rajeev Chavan, appearing for the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), told the court that an experts’ appraisal panel cleared the project in 2008 after considering all aspects including environment hazards and pollution. The court then sought to know who would be held responsible in case of an untoward incident. “We all saw what happened in Kolkata. People go to hospital to get treatment and get well but ended up suffocating to death. Such things happen only in our country,” justice Majmudar said, referring to the recent fire at the AMRI hospital in Kolkata where over 90 persons were killed.
Meanwhile, senior counsel Aspi Chinoy, appearing for the developers of the building, argued that they had been singled out by the HPCL. He pointed out that there were 56 seven-storeyed buildings in the area. The building being constructed by the developer in question is far away from the refinery and all necessary permissions have been acquired, he argued. The court asked HPCL to go through the MoEF’s affidavit and adjourned the hearing till January 10.