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NGT suggests need for preventive action to avoid massive fires at chemical plants

ANI | Updated: Jul 24, 2020 22:54 IST

New Delhi [India], July 24 (ANI): The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has suggested a need for preventive action including conducting mock-drills to avoid any incidents related to massive fires in the chemical plants and asked the Chief Secretaries of all States to hold meetings with concerned officers and stakeholders to take stock of the situation and issue such directions as may be found necessary.
"In view of the repeated failures of compliance of safety norms, there is need for preventive action to avoid any such incidents for which the Chief Secretaries of the all the States may hold meetings with concerned officers and stakeholders within two weeks from today to take stock of the situation and issue such directions as may be found necessary. The preventive action may also include mock-drills as a statutory requirement to be performed under the 1989 Rules," the NGT bench headed by its chairperson AK Goel said.
"We have come across several incidents in recent past (within last three months) resulting in deaths of and injuries to human beings and damage to the environment on account of the failure of compliance of the statutory provisions including the on-site and off-site emergency plans and also other safety measures," the green tribunal said.
Deficiency in compliance of Chemical Accidents (Emergency Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996 (The 1996 Rules) and failure of the State Chief Inspector of Factories (CIFs) under the Factories Act, 1948 to oversee the safety issues have also been observed.
There is a further failure in due compliance of provisions relating to the requirement of approval of the site by the Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization (PESO). The safety requirements are also to be overseen in the process of grant of EC under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the NGT noted.

There appear to be lapses in that regard also. Under the 1989 Rules (Rules 2 (b) and 3) read with Schedule V, responsibilities are also assigned on the CPCB and the State PCB as specified therein, the NGT said.
The NGT was hearing a suo motu petition which has been initiated based on a media report that massive fire engulfed the chemical plant of Visakha Solvents Ltd, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
The state PCB told the tribunal that the incident took place on July 13 night in which one person died and one was injured due to fire accident.
The Tribunal was informed that the heirs of the deceased have been paid a sum of Rs 35 lakhs by the company and Rs 15 lakhs will be paid by the state and a sum of Rs. 20 lakhs will be paid to the injured.
The Green Tribunal directed the constitution of a joint committee comprising CPCB, State PCB and Prof. P Jagannadha Rao, Dept. of Chemical Engineering, Andhra University in Vishakhapatnam to ascertain facts, determine responsibility, assess the final compensation for the victims and the environment, to prepare a plan for restoration of the environment, and suggest precautions for future.
Apart from the report of the Committee, The NGT asked Chief Secretary, Andhra Pradesh, State PCB, CPCB, District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam and MoEF and CC to file an action taken reports and listed the matter for further consideration on November 3. (ANI)