National Green Tribunal (NGT), New Delhi: Bench comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (Chairperson) and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh, Judicial Member and Nagin Nanda, Expert Member took suo moto cognizance of Vizag Gas Leak incident.
Tribunal noted that on the basis of media reports that there was leakage of hazardous gas, Styrene from a chemical factory owned by LG Polymers India Private Limited and it resulted in death of 11 persons and hospitalization of more than 100 people of whom at least 25 were reported to be serious.
More than 1000 persons are reported sick. This particular incident damaged the environment and habitat as well.
Thus the said media reports gave rise to substantial question of environment, that need to be gone into by the Tribunal under Sections 14 and 15 of NGT Act, 2010.
Styrene gas is a hazardous chemical as defined under Rule 2(e) read with Entry 583 of Schedule I to the Manufacture, Storage and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989.
It is to be observed that, leakage of hazardous gas at such a scale adversely affecting public health and environment, clearly attracts the principle of ‘Strict Liability’ against the enterprise engaged in hazardous or inherently dangerous industry.
Tribunal also stated that,
Without prejudice to any other proceedings, this Tribunal has to perform its statutory obligation of providing relief and compensation to the victims of “environmental damage”, as statutorily enacted, and restitution of damaged property and environment.
Thus in view of the above, notice is issued to Andhra Pradesh State PCB, District Magistrate, Vishakhapatnam, Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and LG Polymers India Private, Limited.
A 5-Member committee is also constituted by the tribunal to seek report on the same issue.
Further, LG Polymers India Private Limited is directed to deposit an initial amount of Rs 50 Crore with District Magistrate, Visakhapatnam.
Matter to be listed on 18-05-2020. [Gas Leak at LG Polymers Chemical Plant in RR Venkatapuram Village Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine NGT 128, decided on 08-05-2020]