NGT seeks fresh report on measures taken by IOCL Panipat refinery to check pollution
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday sought fresh report from the HSPCB-headed committee on remedial action taken up for restoration of environment and compliance of norms by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s Panipat refinery in Haryana.
Notably, residents of villages in the vicinity of the refinery, led by Singhpura Sithna village sarpanch Satpal Singh, had taken up the issue with the NGT last year, alleging that the refinery is polluting the air and water in the area. In November last year, the NGT had constituted a joint team comprising representatives of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Haryana state pollution control board (HSPCB), National Environmental Engineering Research Institute and Panipat district magistrate for inspection. The team was told to assess the damage to environment and human health being caused by the refinery.
PANIPAT DM SLAMMED FOR HIRING SEPARATE EXPERT
In a strongly-worded judgment, the bench raised objections over the working of Panipat district magistrate Sumedha Kataria and rapped him for appointing a separate expert (Engineers India Limited) to study the pollution caused by the refinery, without reference to the tribunal.
“The district magistrate was a member of the committee and could have given even a separate opinion but could not appoint a separate expert. It is not clear as to who paid for such separately hired expert,” the bench observed, terming the opinion given by EIL as “unacceptable”.
“We refrain from making any further comments for the time being about the conduct of the district magistrate in trying to divert the issue,” the order said.
The bench, however, accepted the remedial measures suggested by him saying, “Let such remedial measures be taken forthwith,” the bench said.
With regard to the environment compensation of ₹ 642.18 crore proposed by the CPCB, the NGT said it would consider it at the later stage, after necessary remedial action for restoration of environment and compliance of norms, has been taken by the unit.
Talking to Hindustan Times, IOCL general manager (corporate communications) SK Tripathi said, “We have already worked on the suggestions made by the NGT’s joint committee besides compliance of the environmental norms and NGT’s orders.”
In May, the NGT had slapped an interim penalty of ₹17.31 crore on the refinery for causing air and water pollution. Hindustan Times, in a report published on January 9, was the first to report that the pollution by the IOCL refinery was affecting health of the people in nearby villages.
The committee has been directed to submit a report by January 31.
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