NGT directs IOCL’s Panipat refinery to pay Rs 17.31 crore for pollution
A team of pollution control board officials had found that the IOCL’s Panipat refinery was causing ‘enormous damage’ to the environment and human health.Updated: May 14, 2019 12:05 IST
In an interim order, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has held Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL)’s Panipat refinery responsible for violating environmental norms and spreading pollution in nearby villages. The tribunal has also directed IOCL officials to deposit a sum of Rs 17.31 crore within a month as interim compensation for restoration of environment, subject to further orders.
The bench, headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, said the amount may be deposited to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). “We are unable to accept the submission that no compensation may be required to be paid or further action be taken, even if pollution is contributed by others,” the bench said in the order.
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 CPCB, Haryana state pollution control board (HSPCB) and Panipat deputy commissioner for inspection. The team was later told to assess the damage to environment and human health being caused by the refinery.
Hindustan Times was the first to report that the pollution by the IOCL refinery was affecting health of the people in nearby villages. When contacted, HSPCB member secretary S Narayanan said the orders were based on the findings of a committee set up to assess the damage to environment and public health by the air and water pollution caused by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited’s Panipat refinery.
In its report, the committee has acknowledged the “enormous pollution” caused by the refinery and stated that the samples from the Effluent Treatment Plant were found to be non-compliant. Even, the ambient air quality was poor, resulting in irritation to eyes, the order stated
When contacted JAN Corera, general manager, corporate communications, IOCL, said, “We are going to hold a meeting on this issue soon and carry out a study on the matter. But the law of the land must be followed and being a public sector refinery, we would follow the directions.” He added they were complying with the directions of the tribunal and several changes are being made.
On the other hand, a senior scientist at the HSPCB told HT that on NGT orders, the HSPCB has also deputed a team of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, and Central Ground Water Board to assess the damage. “It is expected that after the assessments, the NGT may also impose a more hefty penalty on the refinery.”