Facing environmental penalties, IOCL’s Panipat refinery launches plantation drive
Facing severe criticism and penalties from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for activities leading to pollution, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL)’s Panipat refinery has launched a plantation drive for environment restoration in nearby villages.
The official spokesperson of the IOCL refinery said that they plan to plant over two lakh saplings on 700 acres near the refinery, under the environment sustainability initiative launched in association with the Haryana forest and wildlife department.
Officials further claimed that IOCL has planted over 6.5 lakh trees in the area since the refinery was set up in 1998. “Now, the target is to plant over 2.02 lakh trees with ₹7.18 crore in the next few months,” the officials added.
In 2018, the NGT had formed a joint committee to look into the complaints from residents of six nearby villages who had alleged that activities in the refinery were leading to severe air and water pollution which was impacting their health.
The committee had found that the issues raised by the residents were true to some extent. A kutcha drain was to be the major factor behind pollution in the area and the refinery was discharging effluents into it, thus affecting the quality of water, the committee report stated.
In May 2019, on the recommendations of the first assessment report of the joint committee, the NGT had directed the oil company to deposit ₹17.31 crore to the Central Pollution Control Board as interim compensation for restoration of the environment. Then again in July 2020, the Tribunal directed IOCL officials to deposit a sum of ₹25 crore as interim compensation for restoration of environment.
The plantation drive is being seen as an effort by the refinery to counter the criticism against it. The refinery has also taken several other initiatives, including setting up of a waste water treatment plants and a 2G ethanol plant to convert tonnes of paddy waste into useful ethanol.
Meanwhile, the NGT has formed a team to conduct health check-ups of all residents of the six nearby villages to find out the impact of the pollution on human health.