The National Green Tribunal has pulled up the Railways for failing to submit information about the capacity of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Tughlakabad in the city where a chemical spill took place recently. A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar asked the Railways to file an affidavit in this regard within a week or it would impose Rs 25,000 as costs. "The counsel appearing for the Railways further prays for time to file reply. By way of last opportunity, the reply be filed within one week.
If the reply is not filed now, the Railway shall be liable to pay a cost of Rs 25,000 and their right to file reply shall also stands forfeited," the bench said. The matter is listed for hearing on October 4. Around 450 girl students of the Rani Jhansi School and Government Girls Senior Secondary School, run by the city administration, were hospitalised on May 6 after toxic fumes spread in the surrounding areas due to the leakage. Most of the students, who complained of irritation in the eyes and breathlessness, were discharged after a few hours but a few had to be kept under observation for a longer time. Earlier, the bench had granted the last opportunity to the Environment Ministry to file response to the report of the AIIMS panel, formed by the Centre after the incident. Advocate Sanjay Upadhyay, who had filed a plea seeking shifting of the container depot, had submitted maps of four major rail routes of railways. These showed the routes on which container trains ply from the ports on the western coast of the country for entry of goods not destined to Delhi. The lawyer had said the non-destined goods were being brought to the Tughlaqabad depot despite the fact that alternative container depots were in existence which were equally capable of handling these goods. He had claimed that all container depots were equally placed as Tughlaqabad depot and there was no reasonable basis of bringing non-Delhi destined goods to Delhi and contributing to the already increasing air pollution of the national capital and NCR region. The NGT had also had directed Dr Y K Gupta, head of the Pharmacology Department of AIIMS, to file the complete report based on his visit to the place. It had also asked the AIIMS to submit a supplementary report and inform about the health of the affected children. The expert panel of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had earlier said that the residents of the Tughlaqabad area were "sitting on a (ticking) bomb" and opined that the inland container depot should be relocated. The NGT had asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to state whether such containers carrying toxic material should be permitted in Tughlaqabad. The tribunal had also directed officials from MoEF, Central Pollution Control Board, department of industries in Haryana and the state pollution control board to conduct a joint inspection of the Sonepat-based agro-chemical company Crystal Crop Protection Pvt Ltd which was the consignee of the leaked chemical in the case.