Rs 50 crore deposited by LG Polymers to be used for eco restoration, compensating victims: NGT
The NGT also ordered the state to act against those who had given permission to the company to operate in violation of laws.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 01:01 IST
The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday ordered that the amount of Rs 50 crore deposited by LG Polymers India Ltd with Andhra Pradesh government be spent for restoration of environment and for part compensation to victims of Styrene gas leak from the company’s Visakhapatnam plant, which claimed 12 lives on May 7.
A three-member bench of the tribunal headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said the final quantum of compensation to be paid by the company will be decided by a committee comprising representatives from the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), central pollution control board (CPCB) and national environmental engineering research institute (NEERI) to be constituted within two weeks.
The tribunal suggested that another committee comprising two representatives each from MoEF, CPCB and three representatives of state government be formed to work out the restoration plan in the affected villages within two months.
The NGT bench asked the Andhra Pradesh government to take action against the officials responsible for permitting South Korean firm LG Polymers India Ltd to operate its plant at Visakhapatnam without statutory licences.
It observed that the company had not obtained environmental clearance and the state pollution control board, on account of its ignorance of law or otherwise, gave the ‘Consent to Establish’ and ‘Consent to Operate’ in violation of law.
The bench said the LG Polymers has absolute liability for the environmental damage and consequential loss, including to life and public health, due to leakage of Styrene vapour. It said the government could go ahead with any criminal or other statutory proceedings against the company in accordance with the law.
The bench ordered the state chief secretary to take action against those who had given permission to the company to operate and submit the action taken report within two months. The case was posted to November 3 for further hearings.
The tribunal also ordered that the company cannot recommence its operations without requisite statutory clearances which could be given only after the examination of the tribunal.
It also suggested that the environment ministry constitutes an expert committee to suggest ways and means to prevent violation of environmental norms and recurrence of such incidents in future. It asked the ministry to submit an action taken report within three months.
The tribunal, quoting the reports of the expert committee, observed that the LG Polymers India and its Korean principal LG Chem betrayed lack of experience in monitoring and maintaining full tanks of Styrene that had been lying idle for several weeks without operation because of lockdown.
“Even the storage tank from which the gas leaked was of old design and this possibly contributed to the problem. Operators and any industrial persons are not aware of control measures in such a situation is the main cause,” the NGT said.
The LG Polymers did not present their version, except arguing that the NGT had no powers to take up the case suo motu, as the issue was pending in the Supreme Court.