NGT panel to monitor environment restoration in affected villages adjoining Panipat refinery
A joint committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) will monitor environmental restoration in the village affected due to pollution caused by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s (IOCL) Panipat refinery
A joint committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) will monitor environmental restoration in the village affected due to pollution caused by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s (IOCL) Panipat refinery.
The directions were made in the latest orders issued by a NGT bench headed by chairperson Adarsh Kumar Goel on the petition filed by Satpal Singh, sarpanch of the gram panchayat against the IOCL refinery.
The orders mentioned that violation of environmental norms by the refinery were established from the reports submitted by a joint team comprising Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) and deputy commissioner Panipat.
“Since the matter has been duly gone into by an independent tribunal-appointed committee and remedial action taken and planned, we find it appropriate to direct the joint committee comprising CPCB, HSPCB and the district magistrate, Panipat to monitor further remedial action in terms of above course of action,” reads the order.
Also, the committee will have authority to deal with all surviving issues and any individual grievances can be considered by the said committee and the HSPCB will be nodal agency for coordination and compliance. The action plan may be implemented as per the schedule.
HSPCB member secretary S Naryanan said the restoration plan prepared by the joint team submitted before the NGT and the HSPCB regional officer has sought transfer of funds from the CPCB for implementing the restoration plan and it will be done once the funds are received.
As per the orders, the committee may oversee progress on several aspects including restoration of groundwater quality, supply of safe drinking water to the affected people, development of green belts, rainwater harvesting, medical checkups and development of necessary systems to prevent discharge of untreated waste into the drain.
A quarterly progress report may be furnished by the committee to the chief secretary, chairman of CPCB and it will be placed on the website of the district magistrate, Panipat.
The November 15, 2018 report of the joint committee found that the samples from the effluent treatment plant of the unit were noncompliant and the ambient air quality was exceeding the norms, even volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were resulting in irritation to eyes and odour which was observed by the joint team during inspection.
The report also mentioned that the untreated effluent was found to be discharged in the green belt areas and even the unit was not complying with the conditions of recycling and reusing treated water and the groundwater samples were not complying with the norms.
In May 2019, on recommendation of the first assessment report of the joint committee, the NGT directed the oil company to deposit ₹17.31 crore to the CPCB as interim compensation for restoration of the environment. Again, in July 2020, the tribunal directed IOCL officials to deposit a sum of ₹25 crore as interim compensation for restoration of the environment.