The National Green Tribunal has rapped the Panipat District Magistrate for appointing a separate expert to study the pollution caused by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited's Panipat Refinery in Haryana.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said there was no justification to "charter a separate course" by the DM without reference to the tribunal.
"The District Magistrate was a member of the Committee and could have given even a separate opinion but could not appoint a separate expert. It is not clear as to who paid for such separately hired expert. Moreover, the expert opinion given by Engineers India Limited (which the DM engaged) is unacceptable.
"Apart from being without jurisdiction, the report tries to avoid the issue and ignores the expert opinion already on record on untenable grounds. We refrain from making any further comments for the time being about the conduct of the District Magistrate in trying to divert the issue being dealt with by this Tribunal and going beyond the scope of the task assigned for reasons which are difficult to fathom."
With regard to the environment compensation of Rs 642.18 crore proposed by the Central Pollution Control Board, the NGT said it would consider it at the later stage, after necessary remedial action for restoration of environment and compliance of norms, has been taken by the unit.
Proceedings in the matter were initiated after Satpal Singh, Sarpanch, Gram Panchayat Singhpura Sithna, Panipat, complained to the NGT alleging that Indian Oil Corporation Limited's Panipat Refinery was causing air and water pollution around Bohli Dadlana, Sithana, Panipat villages.
The letter alleged that air pollution by the refinery has caused diseases affecting large number of people and the analysers to measure carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide etc. are not functioning since 2010 and such values are not being recorded.
"Refinery is also polluting the water by discharging effluents in the forest, affecting the quality of water in the area," the plea alleged.
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