National Green Tribunal: The bench of Pushpa Sathyanarayana, J (Judicial Member) and Dr Satyagopal Korlapati (Expert Member), Southern Bench, has dismissed the application against the proposed petrol pump located within 50 meters from the Veeranam Lake citing compliance to the guidelines of CPCB.
The grievance in the application was regarding the establishment of a retail petrol pump in Boothangudi Village, Chidambaram Taluk, Cuddalore District against the guidelines issued by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The fundamental contention of the applicant was that the proposed petrol pump is located at a distance of less than 50 meters from the Veeranam Lake, which holds an ecological importance. The applicant has apprehended that the in case of a leak from the underground storage tank it would be of great threat to ground water and soil contamination.
The Tribunal had appointed a Joint Committee to inspect the area in question and submit a factual as well as action taken report. If there is any violation found with respect to siting criteria in establishment of the unit then submit a plan along with the report showing the existence of any water body, school, hospital and other sensitive areas which are mentioned in guidelines provided by CPCB and their respective distance from the proposed petrol pump.
Whether a petrol pump can be established within 50 meters of ecologically important site?
The applicant contended that the fuel station would discharge volatile organic compounds which would be hazardous to human health as well as the environment.
The CPCB submitted that as per the addendum of 16.08.2021 to the guidelines of 7.1.2020 all surface water bodies irrespective of utility shall be protected from any contamination. Therefore, retail outlets shall not be located within the distance of 50 meters from the nearest point of water bodies. Further, the Senior Manager of Nayara Energy Limited stated that the project proponent has obtained all necessary approvals. Furthermore, the Manager also stated that it is proposed to construct a concrete protection wall around the underground storage tank as recommended by CPCB.
The Committee observed the distance between the proposed construction site and Veeranam Lake to the be less than 50 meters. Therefore, the Joint Committee after inspection recommended that petroleum outlet shall apply for consent of the Board after installing a Vapor Recovery System (VRS), have a secondary containment by way of double walled tanks and apply for consent of TNPCB under the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
Taking into consideration the observations made by the Supreme Court in Indian Oil Corporation Limited v. B.R. Menon, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 1782, the NGT dismissed the application citing that the project proponent has complied with the guidelines 7.1.2020 of the CPCB as well as the addendum dated 16.08.2021.
[C. Danielraj v. Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board; 2022 SCC OnLine NGT 293, decided on 20.12.2022]
*Judgment delivered by: Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Applicants: Mr. Kamlesh Kannan;
For Respondents: Mr. M. R. Gokul Krishnan for Ms. Shanmugavalli Sekar, Ms. Revathi Mnivannan, Dr. D Shanmughanathan, Mr. P. Nagaraju and Mr. Sarvanan.
Editorial Note: The petrol pump does not fall under the ambit of EIA Notification, 2006 (as amended from time to time).