The National Green Tribunal has imposed a Rs 18.35 crore fine on Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL)-Visakh Refinery over violation of environmental norms.
Dealing a plea moved by Visakha Pawan Praja Karmika Sangham, the tribunal's southern zone bench comprising Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Expert Member Saibal Dasgupta, in its Thursday order, said there is merit in the recommendations of the Joint Committee that HPCL had failed to take effective steps despite the long period between 2011 and 2020.
"HPCL being a CPSE industry carrying out public utility services has to be a model unit of compliance with the environmental norms which was unfortunately not there in this case for more than a decade," the bench noted.
Accordingly, the tribunal directed HPCL to deposit the Environmental Compensation assessed at Rs 8,35,20,000 and Rs 10,00,00,000 for their wilful negligence being a Public Sector Undertaking which can be spent on the restoration of the environment and public health in the district of Vizag within two months.
The green court also directed the Joint Committee to ensure regular monitoring and to submit an independent Compliance Report after inspection by May 15, 2023.
The plea pointed out that the MoEF&CC compliance report found violation in the unit that the mandatory green belt of 33 per cent in the unit was not developed.
The conclusion of the monitoring report also stated that the capacity of the unit must be reduced to 70 per cent of the original capacity.
It is further alleged that the bad smell that emanates from the HPCL plant creates nausea, breathlessness, lung, heart, eye and skin diseases to the residents, particularly women, children and elderly people.
On May 25 last year, there was a fire accident at Crude Distillation Unit III of the company.
"It is not a secret that an oil refinery or petroleum product industry is a dangerous job. There is always something that could go wrong. One of the serious risks in these industries is the potential for fire and explosions.
"It is therefore important to conduct fire risk assessment. The management also put in place several rules and practices and train the employees how to recognise the hazards," the order read.
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First Published: Oct 21 2022 | 2:30 PM IST